Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), one of the world's biggest plane lessors, entered an agreement with Boeing to order 15 737 Max jets, underscoring growing confidence in the aircraft after a safety ban on the jet lasting almost two years was lifted.
The order for the 737 Max-8 variant is valued at about $1.8 billion (Dh6.61bn) at list prices, DAE said in a statement on Tuesday. Customers typically get a market discount on their aircraft purchases.
"An increasing number of global aviation regulators are returning the Max to the skies," Firoz Tarapore, chief executive of DAE, said. "We are confident in the success of these aircraft as domestic and regional air travel is seeing strong signs of recovery."
The order takes DAE's Boeing fleet to 162 owned and managed aircraft. As of December 2020, DAE had 116 owned, managed and committed jets of the Boeing 737 family. In February, Mr Tarapore told The National that DAE is in discussions with carriers regarding the 737 Max and that the jet will do "phenomenally well" once the remaining regulators around the world approve the jet for re-entry into commercial service.
“DAE has been instrumental in helping its customers realise the operating economics and environmental performance of the 737-8," Ihssane Mounir, Boeing's senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing, said. "We are delighted that they have come back to add more 737 aircraft to its growth plan as it positions itself for the recovery in commercial passenger traffic."
The 737 Max, an industry workhorse, was grounded globally in March 2019 following two fatal crashes within the span of five months that killed 346 people.
In February, the UAE joined Canada, the US, Brazil and Europe in approving the plane’s return to commercial service.
DAE's agreement to purchase the aircraft follows a string of 737 Max orders in March from Texas-based Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Miami-based private investment firm 777 Partners.
Boeing has been trying to rebuild confidence and trust with its passengers and airline customers after the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
The latest orders will provide a vital cash injection for the Chicago-based plane maker after it ended 2020 posting a record annual loss of $11.9bn.