MOHD RASFAN/AFP via Getty Images
A Malaysian Airlines Airbus A330-300.

Malaysia Airlines Halts 737 Max Deliveries in Fresh Blow to Boeing

Jan. 15, 2020
The order stoppage is a casualty of the uncertainty surrounding the Boeing plane's return to service.

Malaysia Airlines Bhd. suspended deliveries of Boeing Co. 737 Max aircraft it had on order for this year, the first Southeast Asian carrier to publicly take such a step since the global grounding of the plane in March.

The airline said it made the decision because it’s unclear when the 737 Max will return to service following crashes in Indonesia in late 2018 and Ethiopia 10 months ago that killed 346 people. Malaysia Airlines has 25 of the jets on order and hasn’t received any.

“In view of the production stoppage and the delayed return to service of the 737-MAX, Malaysia Airlines has suspended the delivery of its orders which are due in 2020,” the carrier said in a statement. “Malaysia Airlines views safety of its operations and customers of utmost priority and welcomes moves by Boeing to improve procedures to ensure the safe operations of the 737 Max.”

The crashes and subsequent grounding of the single-aisle 737 Max plunged Boeing into an unprecedented crisis that’s led to multiple lawsuits, weighed heavily on sales and cost former Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg his job. The Chicago-based company said Tuesday that deliveries slumped to 380 jetliners in 2019. That left Airbus SE as a clear winner with its 863 deliveries.

Saudi Arabian budget carrier Flyadeal became the first airline to officially drop the 737 Max back in July when it reversed a commitment to buy up to 50 of the Boeing jets, saying instead it would operate an entirely Airbus fleet.

PT Garuda Indoesia said in May it would cancel a 737 Max order, though it remains on Boeing’s books, while Lion Air’s owner Rusdi Kirana warned he may cancel tens of billions of dollars worth of orders. Kirana said the U.S. manufacturer unfairly implicated his airline in the 2018 crash, but he hasn’t followed through on his threat.

By Kyunghee Park

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