International Airlines Group (IAG) plans to convert 18 Boeing 787 Dreamliner options into firm orders for British Airways, which will use the new aircraft to replace some of its 747-400s between 2017 and 2021.

The carrier group has also reached agreement with Boeing to "secure commercial terms and delivery slots" that could lead to a 787 order for Iberia. "Firm orders will only be made when Iberia has restructured and reduced its cost base and is in a position [to] grow profitably," says IAG.

Iberia operates only Airbus aircraft, and has a widebody order backlog of six Airbus A330s.

British Airways already has orders for eight 787-8s and 16 787-9s. Its 18 options were for the 787-8, Flightglobal's Ascend Online database shows, but IAG's statement today does not specify if the 18 options being firmed up are for that variant. The airline's 787s will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.

The carrier operates 52 747-400s, according to Ascend.

"The creation of IAG has resulted in greater buying power for both airlines through joint procurement and we have been able to obtain delivery slots for Iberia as part of British Airways' order," says IAG chief executive Willie Walsh.

The aircraft order is subject to approval by IAG shareholders.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news