Boeing has downplayed the significance of IAG's decision to omit the "Max" brand name from its statement on a deal for 737-8s and -10s.
The letter of intent, covering 200 aircraft, was disclosed at the Paris air show on 18 June. With its avoidance of the brand name, the European airline group has fuelled debate on whether Boeing will need to rebrand its flagship narrowbody amid the crisis that has followed two fatal crashes and the jet's subsequent, and ongoing, grounding.
"Talking about the branding of the Max and what IAG did or did not do, I can't answer that question," said Boeing senior vice-president of commercial sales and marketing Ihssane Mounir when the subject of the Max-free statement was raised during a briefing at Le Bourget today.
"Customer's brand is customer's brand," he went on to say. "I mean, you have the 787 – what do we call the 787 today? Some call it the Dreamliner, some call it the 787-8, some call it the -9, some just call it the 787. Customers will do what customers would like to do, and we'll support what they do."
Mounir declined to specify whether talks with IAG on a Max deal had begun before March – the month in which the second Max crash, involving an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft, occurred – saying only that they had been conducted "for quite some time".
He describes air shows as "a place where we celebrate", adding: "Deals don't happen at the show.... You plan these things. You discuss with customers when is the right time to make an announcement, and it happened that we both agreed this was the right time to make the announcement...
"These are big decisions that people make. These are very significant decisions, and the show is a platform to celebrate, acknowledge and publish those decisions. But it takes some time to do those things."
While he stresses that Boeing's focus is on returning the Max to service safety and reliably, Mounir confirms that Boeing is in talks with customers on further orders for the aircraft. "We are engaging with several across the globe," he says. "It's a long-term business and you have to plan for the long term.... We are in discussions for Max orders, and at the right time we'll disclose those."