The Indonesian airline Garuda announced the cancellation of an order for 49 Boeing 737 MAX 8s on March 22, 2019.
This is the first confirmed contract cancellation for the US manufacturer following the two crashes involving the aircraft. In October 2014, Garuda ordered 50 Boeing 737 MAX 8s for $4.9 billion at list prices. It has already received one of them.
“We sent a letter to Boeing asking for the cancellation of the order,” said Ikhsan Rosan, spokesman for the airline, adding “Garuda’s passengers lost confidence” in the 737 MAX and do not want to fly on this plane anymore.
Garuda is reportedly in discussions with Boeing to determine if the company will return the first aircraft it has already received. Chief executive of Garuda Ari Ashkara told Detik the company would consider opting for another version of the 737.
Without ruling out the possibility of “looking for other manufacturers, if they were to make attractive and appropriate offers,” he noted that he still had confidence in Boeing, which is the company’s manufacturer “since the 80s”.
Indonesia, where eleven Boeing 737 MAX 8s were operated (one by Garuda Indonesia and 10 by Lion Air) was among the first countries to ground the aircraft following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines that killed 157 people on March 10, 2019.
Lion Air, that saw one of its own Boeing 737 MAX 8s crash on October 29, 2018, has already suspended deliveries of four aircraft that were expected in 2019. According to Bloomberg, it is considering the cancellation of its $22 billion order for about 200 Boeing 737 MAX 8/9 and 50 737 MAX 10, and could switch to Airbus as a replacement, with either the A220 or the A321neo.
Boeing announced on March 21, 2019, that all 737 MAX would now be equipped with a warning light to alert the pilot of any malfunction of the MCAS anti-stall system that may be the cause of both Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes. So far, this alarm system was a paid option for customers.
The FBI has been called upon in the criminal investigation opened by the US Department of Transport and overseen by the Department of Justice, according to the Seattle Times. It should allocate some of its resources to review certification of the Boeing 737 MAX, especially the MCAS.