Concerns have been growing regarding the safety of Boeing’s newest narrow-body aircraft, the 737 Max, following its involvement in the recent Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10, and now Indonesia’s flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has informed Boeing that it will cancel its US$6 billion order for 49 of the aircraft.
“We have sent a letter to Boeing requesting that the order be cancelled,” said Garuda spokesman Ikhsan Rosan, reports AFP.
“The reason is that Garuda passengers in Indonesia have lost trust and no longer have the confidence [in the aircraft],” Rosan added. Boeing has yet to respond to Garuda’s request.
The 49 aircraft represent all but one of Garuda’s original 50-aircraft order that it placed in 2014. The airline has so far taken delivery of just one B737 Max 8.
Reuters reports that Garuda’s chief financial officer, Fuad Rizal, said the carrier could switch its order to another Boeing aircraft, adding that negotiations were still ongoing and that the airline wasn’t looking to ditch Boeing and opt for a new order with Airbus instead.
The 737 Max has now been grounded globally. Before the Ethiopian Airlines crash, a Lion Air flight operated by a 737 Max crashed in October. The Indonesian budget carrier has reportedly been reconsidering its own 737 Max orders since.
Other carriers in Asia-Pacific have also reevaluated their aircraft orders.
Korean Air last week announced that it would be pushing back delivery of its first 737 Max, the first of which was due to be received in May this year. The Korean carrier had originally planned to fly the aircraft on routes to Japan and China, and is now working on changing the operating aircraft for affected routes, a spokesperson for the airline told Business Traveller Asia-Pacific.
Airlines already operating the aircraft have similarly had to look to the rest of their fleet to take on routes operated by the grounded 737 Max.
In its most recent statement released on Monday, March 18, Boeing chairman Dennis Muilenburg said: “Safety is at the core of who we are at Boeing, and ensuring safe and reliable travel on our airplanes is an enduring value and our absolute commitment to everyone.
“Based on facts from the Lion Air Flight 610 accident and emerging data as it becomes available from the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident, we’re taking actions to fully ensure the safety of the 737 Max. We also understand and regret the challenges for our customers and the flying public caused by the fleet’s grounding.”
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