Nairobi News

Hustle

Why KQ still wants to purchase troubled Boeing 737 Max

Kenya Airways will not cancel its orders for the Boeing 737-800 Max jets that have been grounded globally after suffering two fatal crashes in five months, chairman Michael Joseph has said.

The national carrier is planning to order up to 10 of the planes worth an estimated Sh120 billion ($1.2 billion).

“The only option that we have planned for is the Boeing 737-800 Max because this will make it easier for us to conduct training and maintenance of the aircraft,” said Mr Joseph in an interview with the Business Daily.

“We hope that between now and the time when we are ready to acquire the new fleet, Boeing will have solved the current problem,” he added.

CAUSE OF CRASHES

The US aviation giant has been racing to fix a software problem suspected to be the cause of the two crashes that killed 157 people in the Ethiopian Airlines accident this month and 189 people in an Indonesian carrier Lion Air crash five months ago.

36 of those killed in the Ethiopian crash were Kenyans.

Preliminary investigations have pointed to similarities in the circumstances surrounding the two crashes.

The safety concerns have put at stake global orders for the plane worth about Sh5.7 trillion ($57 billion).

Kenya Airways (KQ) has the option of buying more of the older 737-800 version of the Boeing aircraft that does not feature the suspect software, but this could see it lose the fuel efficiency associated with the new jet.

SAFETY CONCERNS

Alternatively, KQ could switch to Airbus, but this would come with additional training costs for its pilots, crew and engineers.

The cash-strapped national carrier has plans to get rid of its two Boeing 737-700 jets before the end of the year.

Mr Joseph says maintaining the same fleet of Boeing jets is the most cost-efficient option for the national carrier, but that will depend on the manufacturer’s ability to fix safety concerns around the new 737-800 Max series.

The Boeing 737-800 Max jets were grounded across the world following the two air crashes.