Lion Air, Garuda Indonesia ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets to comply with Transportation Ministry’s order

Boeing 737 MAX 8. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Boeing 737 MAX 8. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Lion Air and flag carrier Garuda Indonesia — the only two Indonesian airlines that have the Boeing 737 MAX 8 in their fleets — are complying with a Transportation Ministry order to temporarily ground the new jet in light of the tragic Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday, as well as the crash of Lion Air flight JT-610 in October 2018, both of which used the Boeing 737 MAX 8 model.

The ministry ordered a temporary grounding of all 737 MAX 8 planes yesterday evening, as expected, following China’s and Ethiopia Airlines’ lead.

“The Director General of Air Transport will take steps to carry out inspections and temporarily prohibit Boeing 737 Max 8 from flying in Indonesia,” Transportation Ministry Director General of Air Transport Polana Pramesti told reporters in Jakarta.

Lion Air currently has 10 737 MAX 8 jets in service while Garuda has one.

“Ten Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes that we have [are being grounded] until further notice,” Lion Air spokesperson Danang Mandala Prihantoro wrote in a statement yesterday, adding that airline will do their utmost to minimize disruptions to their schedule as a result of the temporary prohibition.

Garuda also said that it’s grounding its 737 MAX 8 jet, though the fact that they only have one in service means their schedule won’t be as affected as Lion’s.

“We must comply [with the order],” Garuda Indonesia President Director I Gusti Ngurah Askhara told Detik.

The two Indonesian aviation giants are committed in huge purchasing deals with Boeing for the 737 MAX series jets. Garuda Indonesia currently has an order of 49 737 MAX 8 jets, but their deliveries have reportedly been deferred until 2020. Meanwhile, Lion Air currently has 14 737 MAX series aircrafts and has ordered 201 more, but that deal could be on the line due to the airline’s row with Boeing regarding culpability in the JT-610 crash.

The cause of JT-610’s crash is still being investigated, but this is the first government order to ground the 737 MAX jets since the tragic incident, which killed all 189 on board.

Chinese aviation authorities today ordered all Chinese airlines to suspend their use of the 737 MAX 8 following the Ethiopian Airlines crash yesterday, while the Addis Ababa-based airline is also suspending use of the beleaguered jet.

Ethiopia Airlines flight ET302, en route to Nairobi, Kenya, crashed soon after taking off from Addis Ababa Sunday morning, killing all 158 on board. Among the victims is an Indonesian woman who worked for the UN’s World Food Programme and lived in Rome.

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