Air Lease Corporation has confirmed an initial pact for 32 Boeing 737 Max jets as the US-based plane builder seeks to meet airlines' demand for fuel-efficient single-aisle aircraft as demand for air travel recovers.
The Los Angeles-based lessor signed for 737-8 and 737-9 jets in February, and the confirmed order brings its total backlog for Max jets to 130, it said in a statement on Monday.
“Following our memorandum of understanding with Boeing in February for 32 737 Max aircraft, we are pleased to announce the signing of this definitive purchase agreement,” said John Plueger, chief executive and president of Air Lease Corporation.
“We believe that the economic and operating advantages of the 737 Max will serve our airline customers well as they favour modern, fuel efficient aircraft.”
The breakdown of the order in terms of jet variant was not disclosed. The list price for the 737 Max 8 stands at $121.6 million and for the Max 9 at $128.9m, according to Boeing.
Air travel is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic as governments lift restrictions and population immunity grows as vaccination rates rise.
A recent survey of travel restrictions for the world’s top 50 air travel markets by the International Air Transport Association (Iata) showed increasing momentum towards reopening borders.
The survey revealed that 25 markets representing 38 per cent of 2019 international demand are open to vaccinated travellers without quarantine measures or testing requirements — up from 18 markets (or 28 per cent of 2019 international demand) in mid-February.
Global passenger traffic is on track to rebound to pre-pandemic levels by 2024, although the Russia-Ukraine conflict poses near-term risks, Iata said in March.
The number of travellers is expected to reach four billion in 2024, more than double pre-coronavirus levels recorded in 2019, it said.
Air Lease Corporation said that the 737 Max family “enables airlines to optimise their fleets across a broad range of missions while reducing fuel use and carbon emissions by at least 20 per cent compared to the aeroplanes they replace".
With the 737 Max, the lessors' airline customers can choose aircraft that suit multiple markets based on range and size while offering commonality for pilots and crew, it said.
“The addition of more 737 Maxs, including 737-8s and 737-9s, will enable Air Lease Corporation to respond to accelerating market demand as air travel continues to recover,” Ihssane Mounir, Boeing's senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing, said.