Boeing's 737 MAX gets a boost as Turkish leisure airline expands order
Boeing's 737 MAX program got a shot in the arm Monday as SunExpress exercised an option to add 10 more of the planes to its fleet.
The carrier, which is a joint venture between Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa, serves holiday destinations from Europe and Turkey.
The SunExpress order comes as the global fleet of 737 MAX jets remains grounded following fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. An automated flight control system is suspected of contributing to both disasters, and Boeing has been working with regulators and other industry stakeholders to resolve the issue and get the planes flying again.
Airlines have continually extended the window in which they expect to keep the aircraft off their schedules.
Despite the ongoing troubles, SunExpress signaled confidence in the manufacturer by announcing the order at the Dubai Airshow.
"We have full confidence that Boeing will deliver us a safe, reliable, and efficient aircraft," Jens Bischof, the CEO of SunExpress, said in a statement with Boeing. "However, it goes without saying that this requires the undisputed airworthiness of the model, granted by all relevant authorities. Our utmost priority at SunExpress is and has always been safety."
SunExpress' is the first firm order for MAX aircraft since the fleet was grounded, with the options expanding a 32-jet order SunExpress placed in 2014. None of those planes have been delivered, in part because of the grounding of the MAX that is now going into its ninth month. In June, Boeing landed an order for 200 MAX jets from International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, LEVEL and Vueling. That commitment was less binding than a firm order, coming as a "letter of intent" revealed at the Paris Air Show.
Boeing acknowledged that the SunExpress announcement gave the MAX program a boost.
"We are honored and humbled by the trust that SunExpress has placed in our team at Boeing. They have been a wonderful partner over the years, demonstrating every day the efficiency and reliability of the Boeing 737 across their growing network," Stan Deal, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, added in the statement. "We regret the impact the MAX grounding has had on SunExpress and their passengers. The Boeing team is working hard to safely return the airplane to service and providing the capacity for SunExpress to continue serving as the backbone of air travel in the Turkish tourism industry."