Tuesday 23 April 2019

Indonesia's national airline seeking cancellation of multibillion-pound order for Boeing 737 Max 8 jets

Ethiopian Airlines crew members mourn as pallbearers carry coffins of their colleagues at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Orthodox church in Addis Ababa. Photo: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters
Ethiopian Airlines crew members mourn as pallbearers carry coffins of their colleagues at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Orthodox church in Addis Ababa. Photo: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Niniek Karmini

Indonesia's national airline is seeking the cancellation of a multibillion-pound order for 49 Boeing 737 Max 8 jets, citing a loss of confidence after two crashes in the past six months.

It is the first announcement of a cancellation since Boeing's new model aircraft were grounded following fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

PT Garuda Indonesia, which ordered 50 Max 8 jets in 2014 and had received just one plane last year, sent a letter to Boeing last week requesting to cancel the order worth 4.9 billion dollars (£3.7 billion), the company's spokesman Ikhsan Rosan said.

The carrier has so far paid Boeing about £26 million (£19 million) for the order.

Garuda joined other airlines worldwide in grounding Max 8 jets after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight this month which killed all 157 people aboard.

It came less than five months after 189 people died in the October 29 crash of another Max 8, operated by Indonesian private airline Lion Air.

A woman mourns next to coffins during the funeral of crash victims in Addis Ababa. Photo: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri
A woman mourns next to coffins during the funeral of crash victims in Addis Ababa. Photo: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri

"Passengers always ask what type of plane they will fly as they have lost trust and confidence in the Max 8 jet," Mr Rosan said. "This would harm our business."

He said Garuda plans to meet Boeing representatives next week in Jakarta to discuss details of cancelling the order.

An Ethiopian relative of a crash victim grieves next to a floral tribute at the crash site (Mulugeta Ayene/AP)
An Ethiopian relative of a crash victim grieves next to a floral tribute at the crash site (Mulugeta Ayene/AP)

"We don't want to use Max jets ... but maybe will consider switching it with another Boeing model of plane."

He said Indonesian passengers are afraid to take flights using any Max model, whether it's the 8, 9 or 10 series.

The cockpit voice recorder from the crashed Ethiopian Airlines jet (BEA via AP)
The cockpit voice recorder from the crashed Ethiopian Airlines jet (BEA via AP)

A preliminary report from Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee in December stopped short of declaring a probable cause of the October crash.

Officials have provided scant details since then, saying they are still analysing data from a cockpit voice recorder that was only recovered from the sea in January.

An Ethiopian relative of a crash victim grieves next to a floral tribute at the crash site (Mulugeta Ayene/AP)
An Ethiopian relative of a crash victim grieves next to a floral tribute at the crash site (Mulugeta Ayene/AP)

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