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MAX arrivals recede over horizon for Virgin Australia

May 1, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

As Boeing works to get its grounded 737 MAX aircraft type back in the air, the chance of the controversial planes flying in Australia anytime soon has receded with a decision by Virgin Australia to defer deliveries.

Virgin was due to receive its first 737 MAX from Boeing this November. The airline has now reached an agreement with the plane manufacturer to defer deliveries for two years.

Virgin has also rejigged its MAX order of 38 MAX 8s and 10 MAX 10s. The airline will now receive the bigger aircraft (the MAX 10) first.

Other 737 MAX customers, including Norwegian Air Shuttle and Indonesia’s Lion Air, have also delayed deliveries. A Lion Air 737 MAX 8 was one of two planes involved in the fatal crashes that triggered the crisis, the other being an Ethiopian Airlines plane.

“Safety is always the number one priority for Virgin Australia,” Virgin chief executive Paul Scurrah said “As we have previously stated, we will not introduce any new aircraft to the fleet unless we are completely satisfied with safety.”

Scurrah, who took over from John Borghetti in March, said Virgin Australia was “confident in Boeing’s commitment to returning the 737 MAX to service safely”.

As a long-term partner of Boeing, Virgin would be working with them through that process, he said.

First public appearance of the Boeing 737 MAX. Roll-out in Seattle of the 737 MAX 8 in December 2015.

“The revised timing also results in a number of positive commercial benefits for the group.

“This includes a significant deferral of capital expenditure by extending the use of existing aircraft given the relatively young age of the fleet along with providing the group earlier access to the superior operational economics of the MAX 10 aircraft.”

When the 737 MAX does become certified to fly again, the first challenge for operators will be to persuade passengers to fly in them. A number of uncomplimentary articles about the plane and its manufacture, notably in the New York Times, means it may take time to restore customer confidence.

Concerned flyers who have installed the FlightAware app on their iPhones, iPads or Androids will be able to tell whether their flights will be on a MAX.

Written by Peter Needham

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