- Boeing met with airlines around the world to reassure them about the Boeing 737 Max after the Lion Air disaster, its first deadly crash, according to a report from The Verge.
- The tactic appeared to work: representatives secured new orders for the plane and even convinced Lion Air to keep an order with billions of dollars, the report said.
- But Lion Air has since indicated that it wants to cancel its order after the second deadly 737 Max crash, while other airlines have cancelled orders or failed to place new ones.
- Boeing’s profits have taken a $1 billion hit, while airlines say the crisis has hurt their profits and have indicated they want future compensation from Boeing.
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Boeing reportedly sent representatives around the world to visit airlines and convince them of the safety of its 737 Max plane after the Lion Air disaster which killed 189 people, even managing to persuade the Indonesian airline to keep its order for the plane model.
The Verge reported that Boeing deployed its account representatives to convince airlines to remain confident in the new jet, which had become its best-seller, after the October 2018 crash.
The report, based on interviews with experts, pilots, and engineers, said that Boeing managed to secure new orders from airlines and convinced Lion Air to keep its order, worth billions of dollars, for the 737 Max.
These tactics contrast to Boeing’s more public response to the second fatal crash involving the 737 Max, the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people in March 2019.
While it was criticised for staying silent in the immediate aftermath of the crash, Boeing has since apologized and acknowledged the role that the planes’ software systems appears to have played based on the preliminary reports into both crashes, while at the same time defending the aircraft and its design.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
But despite its earlier efforts, Lion Air now says that it wants to cancel its order with Boeing after that second crash.
Rusdi Kirana, Lion Air’s owner, said in March that the airline was drafting documents that would cancel its orders, accusing Boeing of "acting immorally in this relationship," Bloomberg reported.
Indonesia’s flagship carrier Garuda Indonesia also asked to cancel a $5 billion order for 49 Boeing 737 Max jets in March. It said that its customers had "lost trust" in the plane model after the crashes.
Boeing has reported no new orders for the plane since it was grounded around the world following the second crash, and has cut production from 52 a month to 42.
Airlines have cancelled flights and reported a hit to their profits, and have indicated that they will be looking for compensation from Boeing. It said in its Q1 results that it has already lost at least $1 billion this year, however analysts predict that it will be able to recover.
Boeing has repeatedly pledged "earn and re-earn" flyers’ trust since the second crash, and said that it would be one of the world’s safest planes when it returns to the skies when a software fix is approved by regulators.
- A critical sensor linked to the 2 fatal Boeing 737 Max crashes had been flagged to the FAA more than 200 times, report says
- Boeing’s CEO said pilots did not ‘completely’ follow emergency procedures during Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max disaster, contradicting investigators
- Airlines say the grounding of the 737 Max will cost them hundreds of millions of dollars, and they’re ready to pursue Boeing for the money