Indonesia’s flagship airline moves to cancel $5 billion order for 49 Boeing 737 Max 8 jets after deadly crashes

A Boeing 737 Max 8 belonging to Garuda at a maintenance facility at Indonesia's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on March 13. The airline has formally asked to cancel a $5 billion order of the model.

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A Boeing 737 Max 8 belonging to Garuda at a maintenance facility at Indonesia’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on March 13. The airline has formally asked to cancel a $5 billion order of the model.
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Willy Kurniawan/Reuters

  • Garuda, the flagship airline of Indonesia, has asked to cancel a $5 billion order for 49 Boeing 737 Max 8 jets in light of two deadly crashes involving the aircraft in five months.
  • “Garuda passengers in Indonesia have lost trust and no longer have the confidence” in the plane, a spokesman for the airline told Agence France-Presse.
  • This is the first time an airline has formally, publicly asked to cancel an order of the jet model.
  • It’s not clear whether Garuda hopes to order a different Boeing model or order from another manufacturer altogether.

Indonesia’s flagship airline has asked to cancel a $5 billion order of 49 Boeing 737 Max 8 jets, saying its customers have “lost trust” in the plane model after two Max 8s crashed within five months of each other.

“We have sent a letter to Boeing requesting that the order be canceled,” Ikhsan Rosan, a spokesman for Garuda Indonesia, told Agence France-Presse on Friday.

“The reason is that Garuda passengers in Indonesia have lost trust and no longer have the confidence” in the model, Ikhsan added.

Boeing representatives plan to visit the Indonesian capital of Jakarta next week to discuss the cancellation request with Garuda in person, CNN reported Ikhsan as saying.

Boeing declined to comment when contacted by Business Insider.

Read more: The crashed Lion Air and Ethiopian jets lacked safety features that might have helped because Boeing charged extra for them, report says

A Saudi man whose brother died in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plane crash at the scene of the crash, near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, on March 13.

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A Saudi man whose brother died in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plane crash at the scene of the crash, near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, on March 13.
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REUTERS/Baz Ratner

This marks the first time an airline has formally, publicly asked to cancel an order of the jet.

Garuda already received one Boeing 737 Max 8 jet as part of a 50-plane order worth $4.9 billion, and it plans to discuss with Boeing whether to return that plane, AFP reported.

The Indonesian airline has paid about $26 million for the order so far, AFP reported.

A man examining debris from Lion Air Flight 610, the Boeing 737 Max 8 that crashed in October.

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A man examining debris from Lion Air Flight 610, the Boeing 737 Max 8 that crashed in October.
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Ed Wray/Getty Images

It is not clear whether Garuda hopes to replace 737 Max 8s with another Boeing model or with planes from another manufacturer altogether.

AFP cited I Gusti Ngurah Askhara Danadiputra, Garuda’s Indonesia managing director, as telling the Indonesian news site Detik that “it’s not that we want to replace Boeing, but maybe we will replace” the planes with a different Boeing model.

Another Detik article published Thursday, however, cited Danadiputra as saying the carrier might look to order from another aircraft manufacturer altogether.

Garuda did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

Shoes of passengers of Lion Air Flight 610 were laid out at the Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia.

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Shoes of passengers of Lion Air Flight 610 were laid out at the Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia.
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REUTERS/Beawiharta

Flight 610 of the low-cost Indonesian airline Lion Air crashed in the Java Sea in October, killing all 189 people on board. Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed near the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on March 10, killing all 157 people on board. Both crashes involved Max 8 jets that were effectively brand new.

While the causes of the two crashes are not yet known, investigators are examining whether the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System – automated software designed to prevent the Max 8’s nose from tipping upward – was incorrectly triggered, forcing both planes into a dive.

Read more: Boeing plans to start including a safety feature that customers previously had to pay for on all 737 Max aircraft

Ethiopian Airlines crash graphic map

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Reuters Graphics

Boeing is working on a software update to the Max 8 meant to overhaul MCAS. The firm hopes to finish the update by Monday, the Associated Press reported this week.

The US, Canada, and more than 50 other countries have grounded their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes in light of the disasters.