JAKARTA – Indonesia’s national carrier Garuda announced on Friday that it has decided to cancel an order for 49 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets following two fatal crashes of the aircraft model in less than five months.
The airline said it was open to switch the $4.9 billion order with other Boeing jet models.
“We want to cancel it (the order) because of the low confidence of customers in flying this kind of aircraft,” Garuda Indonesia spokesperson Ikhsan Rosan told EFE.
Rosan said the airline representatives would meet with officials from the United States company next week to discuss the issue and consider replacing the order for 737 MAX 8 jets.
The airline has received one 737 MAX 8 aircraft as part of the original order for 50 jets. The order was worth $4.9 billion when it was finalized in 2014.
Garuda Indonsia’s decision comes in the midst of a global crisis for Boeing following the aircrash in October last year of a 737 MAX 8 aircraft in Indonesia which left all 189 people onboard dead.
A second aircraft of the model crashed in Ethiopia on March 10, killing all 157 people on board.
Investigations into the accidents are ongoing and have not offered any conclusive results behind their cause as yet.
Since the second tragedy, the operations of this aircraft model have been banned globally.
Boeing’s safety protocols are being looked into amid a review of model certification and pilot training to resume flying the 737 MAX 8 planes.
The similarities between the two accidents point to problems with the automatic system (MCAS) of the 737 Max which, under certain circumstances, inclines the nose of the plane downwards to prevent it from stalling. That is when it loses momentum and does not have sufficient speed to stay in air.
Lion Air, the largest budget airline in Indonesia, currently has 10 737 MAX 8 jets in its fleet. Last week, the carrier announced temporary grounding of an order for four aircraft of this model planned for May.
One of the directors of Lion Air, Daniel Putut, also said the airline has questioned the viability of the total order of 218 737 MAX 8 aircraft contracted with Boeing.