In a vote of confidence in Boeing and its troubled 787 Dreamliner, International Airlines Group, parent company of British Airways and Iberia Airlines, today confirmed orders for 18 more of the composite-bodied, long range planes.
The deal is worth between $4 billion and $4.5 billion at list prices.
The mid-sized aircraft will join British Airways’ fleet between 2017 and 2020. Wednesday’s order is in addition to 24 Dreamliners the airline holding company previously ordered.
The worldwide fleet of 50 Dreamliners is now grounded because of airlines’ and regulators’ concerns about the planes’ litium ion batteries. Two of those batteries caught fire in January. One plane, a Japan Air Lines 787, was on the ground in Boston when it battery melted down. The other, an All Nippon Airways Dreamliner, was flying over Japan when its battery ignited. The plane landed safely.
Boeing has Federal Aviation Administration approval to test a solution to the battery problems. That multi-pronged solution includes separating the battery cells to keep a meltdown from spreading, containing the battery in a stainless steel box, venting fumes from that box outside the plane and changes in the charging and discharging software.
Boeing is testing that fix now.
The planes are built in Boeing’s Everett wide-body plant and in its new Dreamliner plant in North Charleston, S.C.
IAG said in a financial filing that its is considering replacing some of Iberia’s aging fleet. That airline, however, must restructure and trim its finances first. Both the 787 and Boeing’s updated 747-8 are considered candidates for the Iberia purchase.