The ban by civil aviation authorities around the world for Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 series to overfly or serve countries is causing some cancellations of flights as a handful of airlines in Southeast Asia and Asia integrate the aircraft in their fleet. The suspension of the US made aircraft occurs after the crash of an Ethiopian airlines 737 MAX 8 following a first crash of a Lion Air aircraft in similar circumstances last October.
In Asia, eleven airlines have already in their fleet models of Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 with another 10 carriers of the region which placed an order for the aircraft. Looking at the list of deliveries and orders of the plane, the largest customers of the B737 MAX 8 and 9 in Asia are low cost carrier Vietjet in Vietnam and the Lion Air Group in Indonesia. Both carriers have an order of some 200 aircraft.
Meanwhile, this actually China which has the largest number of the aircraft model already flying. The country record 72 B737 MAX in service as they integrated since 2014 the fleet of Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan Airlines, Shandong Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines and Xiamen Airlines. China was among the first countries in the world to ground all the B737MAX and restrict those aircraft of overflying its territory. Since then, civil aviation authorities in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam also banned the aircraft.
In Indonesia, the Transportation Ministry announced to inspect 11 grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 planes following the Ethiopian Airlines crash. “We are inspecting 10 aircraft owned by Lion Air and one owned by Garuda Indonesia,” said the ministry’s flight navigation director, Asri Santoso on Wednesday as quoted by kompas.com.
Planes are being inspected by a special division called the airworthy and plane operation directorate. The government will then take a definitive decision based on the results of the investigation. Government asked Lion Air to replace the MAX aircraft by 737-900 to avoid disruption in air services.
In Thailand, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand also announced on Wednesday to suspending the use of the Boeing 737 MAX 9 from Thai Lion Air, an affiliate of the Indonesian airlines group. The authority said that the three Boeing 737MAX 9 in use by the Thai carrier have their flying certificate being temporarily suspended for seven days, starting on Thursday.
The Lion Air group ordered 222 Boeing Max planes, including 218 of the Max 8 model and four Max 9 planes. Beside Lion Air, Vietjet and Garuda Indonesia, Singapore Airlines regional carrier Silk Air has five aircraft which have been grounded since Monday. On Wednesday afternoon, the United States decided finally to suspend all the Boeing 737MAX.
At the end of January, Boeing has a total of 5,012 orders for its MAX model, including 376 aircraft already delivered. In Southeast Asia, only 20 B737 MAX are in service but 513 other aircraft are due to delivery in the next years to come, including to Malaysia Airlines Boeing was expecting to deliver this year 580 aircraft, worth US$30 billion. Fixing the problems of the aircraft could however take eventually months and disrupt air routes for a long period of time.