Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

Boeing on notice as Oman Air threatens Airbus talks

Airline is losing revenues and market share following the global grounding of Max fleet in March

Oman Air said it has taken a financial hit from the Boeing 737 Max grounding and plans to hold talks with Airbus if Boeing does not delivery a support and recovery plan. Delores Johnson / The National
Oman Air said it has taken a financial hit from the Boeing 737 Max grounding and plans to hold talks with Airbus if Boeing does not delivery a support and recovery plan. Delores Johnson / The National

Oman Air, a regional customer of Boeing’s grounded 737 Max jets, warned it will begin talks with Airbus for alternative aircraft, if the US plane manufacturer does not deliver its promised recovery plan by Monday.

The airline has sustained "major" financial impact from the grounding of its Max fleet with revenue losses and declining market share, particularly in its domestic market, said Abdulaziz Al Raisi, chief executive of Oman Air. The company's growth plans were "significantly curtailed" by the fleet grounding and missed deliveries.

"If I don’t hear back from Boeing before I arrive at Le Bourget Airport, then I will have to go ahead with my planned business lunch with Airbus at the airshow," Mr Al Raisi said, referring to location of the Paris Airshow that begins on Sunday.

Oman Air operates a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing narrow-body and wide-body aircraft. This includes Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft, the predecessors to the 737 Max, as well as 787 Dreamliners, Airbus A330s and Embraer E-175s.

Oman's national airline, which ordered a total of 30 737 Max jets, grounded its fleet of five Maxs and did not take delivery of another three aircraft that were scheduled to enter service this year. The airline's threat to speak to Boeing's European rival follows Flydubai's warning that it could take A320 Neos in the absence of a timeline for the return of the 737 Max to the skies.

Mr Al Raisi said he had recently met with Boeing executives in Muscat, where he was promised a support and recovery plan for Oman Air to be delivered before the Paris Airshow starts.

Boeing is expected to face heightened scrutiny at the industry event as it faces questions about its troubled 737 Max jet.

The plane maker's best-selling industry workhorse was grounded in March after the model was involved in two deadly crashes within the space of five months that killed 346 people.

Max operators are suffering revenue losses and cost increases after being forced to cancel flights during the peak summer travel season, prompting several airlines to demand compensation from Boeing.

Airlines around the world are awaiting regulatory approval for a software fix and pilot training updates by Boeing that would pave the way for the jets to fly again.

The International Air Transport Association said it expected the Max fleet to remain grounded until August while Emirates president Tim Clark predicted it would not resume flights until December.

The US Federal Aviation Administration said last week it did not have a specific timeline for allowing the Max to resume flying.

Updated: June 16, 2019 08:33 AM

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