Kenya Airways to purchase troubled Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft despite global ban

Flag carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) has reportedly ruled out cancellation of orders it had made to America-headquartered Boeing company to supply it with Boeing 737-800 Max jets.

Kenya Airways chief executive officer Sebastian Mikosz (L), flanked by the board chairman Michael Joseph. REUTERS/Stringer

This is despite the concerns that had been raised following fatal crashes of two Boeing 737 Max 8 jets; the crash of Indonesian airline Lion Air flight 610 on October 29, 2018, and the Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 tragedy on March 10, 2019.

Kenya Airways chairman Michael Joseph was quoted saying the airline would not cancel its order for Boeing 737 Max 8 jets. The carrier had ordered for 10 B737-800 Max jets. Photo: Kenya Airways.

In an interview with Business Daily (BD), KQ’s chairman, Michael Joseph, disclosed the carrier had no intention to take off the table the deal it had with Boeing even as other airlines across the world revoked orders they had placed for B737-800 Max jets for safety reasons.

“The only option we have planned for is the Boeing 737-800 Max. This will make it easier for us to conduct training and maintenance of the aircraft,” the former Safaricom CEO said as quoted on Monday, March 25.

The loss-making Kenyan national carrier is reportedly planning to acquire a fleet of 10 new Boeing 737-800 Max jets which are expected to cost the taxpayers an estimated KSh 120 billion (US$ 1.2 billion) in total.

“We are hoping that between now and the time when we will be ready to acquire the new fleet, Boeing will have sorted out the current issues,” Joseph said.

The issues he was referring to include a software problem that is widely believed to be responsible for the crash of both Lion Air flight 610 which went down with 189 people and Ethiopian flight 302 which claimed 157 lives.

The revelation by the KQ chairman comes a few days after Indonesia’s flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia, announced it had revoked its order for 49 Boeing 737 Max 8 jets, becoming the first airline to cancel a contract with Boeing.

Garuda Indonesia, headquartered in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang city, clarified it resolved to cancel the KSh 600 billion (US$ 6 billion) deal with Boeing after passengers started losing trust in the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

Several countries across the world had banned Boeing 737 Max 8 jets from flying in their airspaces including the United States where the troubled jets are made.