In another blow to the Boeing 737 MAX, Korean national carrier Korean Air has announced it would suspend the introduction of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 until the jet’s “safety is guaranteed.”
Following South Korea’s ban on the delivery of the Boeing 737 MAX 8s, Korean Air has decided to delay the launch of the new jets which were scheduled for delivery starting in May. The airline is contracted to buy 50 737 MAX 8s (20 optional), with 6 scheduled for delivery in 2019.
"Customers' safety is our priority and we will make sure to maintain it," the airline said in a statement. "We are paying close attention to the situation in regard to our purchase plan."
While airlines in China have made headlines with the country’s suspension of 737 MAX operations, Korean carriers are also major customers of the latest version of the popular 737 aircraft with over 100 jets on order combined. Besides Korean Air’s 50 737 MAX 8s on order, the Boeing company has orders from Korean low cost carriers Jeju Air (56), Eastar (18), and T’way (10). Korean Air, Jeju Air, and T’way are awaiting the delivery of their orders, while Eastar is the lone Korean carrier that is already operating the jets in question.
“Although the decision (to ground its two Boeing 737 Max 8) was a pre-emptive measure for passengers’ safety, we expect to bear the cost for the lease and operating losses,” an official from Eastar Jet said in a report on the Korea Herald.
737 MAX 8 Operations and Orders in Review
Along with South Korean airlines, Southeast Asian-based airlines with Boeing 737 MAX 8s on order are reviewing their options as local aviation authorities have imposed bans on the jets.
The recent accident and the safety concerns have prompted Thai Airways to issue a statement it would not now consider the 737 MAX 8 for a future order of 38 jets.
"As we see a lot of problems [with the] 737 Max, we have decided not to choose this model," Sumeth Damrongchaitham, president of Thai Airways International, said in an interview on Wednesday.
The country-wide bans will affect the plans of airlines in the region with large orders of the MAX 8s. Among them are Vietnam-based low cost carrier VietJet, which has up to 200 Boeing 737 MAX 8s on order, Garuda Indonesia, and Malaysia Airlines.