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More Chinese carriers to seek compensation from Boeing

By Zhu Wenqian | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-23 08:59
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Ground staff inspect the exterior of a B737 MAX aircraft at the Zhoushan Putuoshan Airport in Zhejiang province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Average amount for each airline could be $145m, say aviation experts

State-owned Air China and China Southern Airlines joined their compatriot China Eastern Airlines on Wednesday in seeking compensation from Boeing Co for the grounding of the troubled B737 MAX aircraft and postponed deliveries of new aircraft they have booked earlier.

The average compensation amount can be as high as 1 billion yuan ($145 million) based on the grounding scale and operational capacity of the three airlines, industry experts estimated.

Chinese airlines flew 96 of the 371 MAX jets in service worldwide prior to their grounding, the most of any nation. Those grounded include 15 operated by Air China, 24 by China Southern, and 14 by China Eastern, data from Carnoc, a Chinese civil aviation website, said.

Xiamen Airlines has also requested compensation from Boeing, regarding the loss caused by its grounded 10 B737 MAX, according to China Central Television.

Shanghai-based China Eastern became the first domestic airline to file a claim against Boeing on Tuesday because of the huge losses caused by the grounding of 737 MAX aircraft since March 11, following two fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia, Xinhua News Agency reported.

China, Boeing's largest market for the 737 MAX, was the first country to take action to ground the aircraft from commercial flights. The Civil Aviation Administration of China has also suspended the airworthiness certificate application of the 737 MAX for Chinese airlines, meaning no new deliveries of this model will take place in China until the jet is confirmed to have no design flaws.

CAAC will prove the airworthiness compliance of the design of the aircraft. Every aircraft will be upgraded and all of the pilots shall finish their required training, (before they can) resume flying, according to CAAC.

On March 10, all 157 people aboard a flight of Ethiopian Airlines perished shortly after takeoff. The disaster followed the crash in October of a Lion Air flight in Indonesia using the same type of plane, in which 189 people died.

Boeing made its first demonstration in Shanghai from April 9 to 11 of its updated MCAS anti-stall software outside the United States. The aircraft manufacturer did not provide further details on the closed-door event with its customers.

"It is hard to estimate the grounding time of the 737 MAX model, but it is difficult to resume flying within a short period," said Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst and columnist at Carnoc.

"Boeing should finish the upgrading and refitting of the model sooner, and pass the airworthiness certifications of different countries, to enable the aircraft to fly again safely. It is a century-old enterprise, and it is hoped that Boeing can rebuild confidence and trust from consumers," he said.

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