Singapore, May 07 (AP):
Asian airlines are cutting routes, revamping their schedules and leasing extra aircraft to fill gaps left by the grounding of Boeing 737 Max 8s after deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people.
So far, regional carriers have managed to avoid major disruptions, but analysts expect that idling the Max 8s, a fuel-efficient update of Boeing’s popular 737, will crimp growth plans in the near future.
As investigations into the crashes continue, Boeing anticipates a USD 1 billion increase in costs related to the 737 Max, including fixing software implicated in the disasters, adding pilot training and compensating airlines and families of crash victims. Investigators are examining the role of flight-control software that pushed the planes’ noses down based on faulty sensor readings. Nearly 400 Max jets were grounded at airlines worldwide in mid-March after the Ethiopia crash. In Asia, where air passenger traffic is growing the fastest, the groundings are pushing airlines’ costs higher at a time of rising fuel prices, squeezing carriers’ profits. Chinese airlines had 96 Max 8 jets but have managed to avoid massive cancellations by swapping in other models of aircraft, said Kelvin Lau of Daiwa Capital Markets in Hong Kong.
“However, this may limit their capacity growth for the coming peak season,” he added.
China Southern Airlines, which has 25 Max 8 jets, will likely revise its targeted growth for passenger capacity, he said.
Indonesian carrier Lion Air, whose Flight 610 disappeared into the sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, killing 189 people, said Friday in a statement that it was “operating normally by minimizing the impact” from the grounding of its 10 Max 8 jets.
“Lion Air continues to serve routes that have been operated by Boeing 737 MAX 8 by replacing them using other Lion Air fleets,” spokesman Danang Mandala Prihantoro said in a statement.
India’s SpiceJet has said it would lease 22 Boeing 737-800NG aircraft, nine of which are already in service. The carrier said it also will deploy five Bombardier Q400 aircraft.
“The new inductions will not just bring down flight cancellations to nil but also help in SpiceJet’s aggressive international and domestic expansion plans,” chairman and managing director Ajay Singh said in a statement.
Not all carriers, even those without Max 8s, have managed as well.
Singapore, May 07 (AP):