UK leisure carrier Monarch Airlines has firmed options on a further 15 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, valued at $1.7 billion at current list prices, and signed a support joint venture with Boeing.

The order, which was announced at the Paris Air Show, uses all of the options from Monarch’s 2014 order. It takes the airline’s total 737 MAX 8 commitment to 45 aircraft, with first delivery in 2018.  

“The order was previously attributed to unidentified customers on the Boeing orders and deliveries website. Monarch has confirmed the 15 options and has agreed with a lessor for them to take 13 aircraft for lease back to Monarch,” Boeing said.

Monarch is transitioning from an Airbus to a Boeing fleet, which should be completed by the end of 2022.

“It is a rare transition to go entirely from one manufacturer to another and we are pleased with how it is moving. We already have NGs operating. We are very happy with our early sight of the aircraft and are in the process of getting them into the air. As a customer, it has been seamless,” Monarch CEO Andrew Swaffield said.

“The decision to exercise our option for an additional 15 737 MAX 8 aircraft is a clear illustration of confidence in Monarch’s future success.”

Monarch went through some recent financial troubles, but Swaffield said he is very pleased with the way the business has grown since and load factors are up 10 points compared with this time last year.

He added the new aircraft will add “£100 million ($128 million) a year to our bottom line,” driven by lower fuel and servicing costs.

This takes our order for 30 firm aircraft and 15 options to its completion. This isn’t necessarily the end point for Monarch,” he said, although the airline has no immediate plans to place any further orders or take any more options.

Boeing also announced it will supply Monarch with flight training for its 737 MAX fleet, as well as aircraft records management through Boeing’s AerData subsidiary.

Swaffield described the retraining of over 400 pilots from Airbus to Boeing as a “massive challenge.”

Beyond this, Monarch has signed up to Global Fleet Care—formerly known as GoldCare—for its 737 MAX fleet and the two companies have formed a maintenance joint venture, where Monarch Aircraft Engineering will perform third-party work for Boeing.

“We are looking at how to leverage the capacity that already exists at Monarch to be able to offer it to others. We are agreeing collective areas and will be better off together,” Boeing Global Services president and CEO Stan Deal said.

Monarch Aircraft Engineering has been doing third-party work for the past 50 years. External clients make up around 50% of its maintenance workload and the company is one of the few Boeing approved GoldCare providers across the world.

Victoria Moores victoria.moores@penton.com