There are a lot of questions right now surrounding the Boeing 737 MAX. The 737 MAX is grounded globally following two of the planes crashing in the past few months.
While Boeing is working on a software update for the plane, it looks like the 737 MAX’s problems may go way beyond that, as questions emerge about its certification. The FBI is now even getting involved into a criminal investigation of the certification of this plane.
Several airlines have already said that they expect Boeing to pay for any costs incurred as a result of the grounding of the 737 MAX, though one airline is now going way beyond that.
Garuda Indonesia is canceling their order for Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The airline ordered 50 of these planes in 2014, and so far has taken delivery of only one of them. The plan was that they’d take delivery of the remaining planes all the way through 2030.
While this has been rumored for a while, Indonesian media is reporting that today the president of Garuda Indonesia has sent a letter to Boeing to cancel the order.
As he explains, even if the plane’s problems are fixed, passenger trust in the aircraft would not return, and for that reason he doesn’t want his airline to take delivery of the remaining planes. As he explained:
“So even though they have fixed the MAX 8 system, that passenger confidence is gone. So we asked for it to be canceled.”
I’ll be curious to see what exactly comes of this. I imagine he expects they’ll get back whatever deposit they’ve put down with Boeing, and I’m also curious what this means for the one 737 MAX that the airline already has in its fleet, once the plane is cleared to fly again.
Currently Garuda Indonesia’s narrow body fleet consists exclusively of Boeing 737s, as the airline has 73 Boeing 737-800s in their fleet. There’s a lot of commonality between the “standard” 737 and 737 MAX, so to see the airline lose trust in Boeing is a huge step.
Presumably this means the airline would instead be going with Airbus narrow body aircraft in the future.
I don’t doubt that Garuda’s president has sent this letter to Boeing, though I can’t help but wonder if they’re fully serious about canceling this order. This would represent such a radical change for their fleet, and that’s a costly undertaking.
Let’s keep in mind that the president has been working at state-owned enterprises in Indonesia for a long time. Indonesia-based Lion Air was one of the two airlines to lose a 737 MAX, so Indonesia also has a lot at stake with this plane when it comes to both the loss of life and liability.
I’m curious to see if other airlines follow Garuda Indonesia’s lead, and if Garuda Indonesia can’t be talked out of their decision.
Do you think we’ll see more 737 MAX order cancelations?
(Tip of the hat to WP)