European airline group IAG has been in talks with Boeing on a potential earlier start to deliveries of 737 Max jets, in 2022 rather than a year later as previously planned.
At the Paris air show, Boeing and IAG disclosed a letter of intent covering 200 737-8/10s, with a delivery timeframe of 2023-27.
During a results briefing today, IAG chief executive Willie Walsh described the latest delivery discussions with Boeing as "very constructive".
Walsh contrasted the possibility of introducing the Max earlier than planned with the delivery delays affecting Airbus A321s.
He says IAG is "very disappointed" with Airbus's delivery performance and brands the output of the European airframer's Hamburg site – where A321s are assembled – as "very poor".
The site is struggling with its A321 delivery plan partly as a result of producing the A320-family's largest variant with different airframe configurations, which has been an obstacle in making the assembly process more efficient and ramping up production.
Walsh says the delays are "completely unacceptable" as they have affected IAG's network plan and, in particular, its Irish subsidiary Aer Lingus.
In March, Aer Lingus said that it would launch its Dublin-Montreal route in summer 2020, rather than August 2019 as previously planned.
The Max has been grounded since March after two accidents which put the aircraft's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) and pilot training under scrutiny.
Boeing warned on 24 July that it might further reduce or even temporarily suspend Max production were there additional delays to the aircraft's return to service.
The US airframer is working under the assumption that the Max will fly again during the fourth quarter.