Regional airlines have displayed signs of growing confidence in Boeing’s grounded 737 Max after two carriers said they intended to purchase 40 of the planes between them, marking the first firm orders since its grounding.
Kazakhstan’s Air Astana signed a letter of intent for 30 of the troubled jets while Turkey’s SunExpress said it intended to buy 10 Max’s at the Dubai Airshow.
The 737 Max has been grounded since March following two fatal crashes and its return to service has been delayed until January while regulators decide whether it is safe to fly again.
Reports have speculated that other airlines may be planning to make further 737 announcements at the Airshow. Boeing reportedly told Business Insider that it had sold a further 20 of the planes to an unnamed airline customer.
Air Astana intends the Max to serve as the backbone of its new low-cost airline FlyArystan. The 30 jets are valued at a list price of $3.6 billion.
Air Astana already operates the Airbus A320 and launched FlyArystan to better compete in the growing low-cost segment.
Peter Foster, CEO of Air Astana, said: “We believe that the Max will provide a solid platform for the growth of FlyArystan throughout our region, once the aircraft has successfully returned to service.”
SunExpress $1.2 billion list price order for 10 Max adds to a previous deal for 32 of the planes.
CEO Jens Bischof said: “We have full confidence that Boeing will deliver us a safe, reliable, and efficient aircraft. However, it goes without saying that this requires the undisputed airworthiness of the model, granted by all relevant authorities. Our utmost priority at SunExpress is and has always been safety.”
Stan Deal, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said: “We are honoured and humbled by the trust that SunExpress has placed in our team at Boeing. They have been a wonderful partner over the years, demonstrating every day the efficiency and reliability of the Boeing 737 across their growing network.
“We regret the impact the Max grounding has had on SunExpress and their passengers. The Boeing team is working hard to safely return the airplane to service and providing the capacity for SunExpress to continue serving as the backbone of air travel in the Turkish tourism industry.”