The world’s largest planemaker may be headed straight to a protracted turbulence as its $600 billion-plus order book for 737 Max is likely to shrink with key customers threatening to cancel their orders or defect to rival Airbus in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash last Sunday.
On Thursday alone, two airlines, VietJet Aviation and Kenya Airways said they were reviewing their proposals to buy Max 8 jets.
VietJet, which had doubled its 737 Max order to $25 billion only last month, said its decision will depend on the result of the investigation into the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy.
Meanwhile, Kenya Airways is reportedly planning to switch to Airbus SE’s A320.
Reports said Russia’s Utair Aviation is also seeking guarantees before taking delivery of the first of 30 planes.
Indonesia’s Lion Air, which lost its Max 8 jet along with 189 people on board last October, is also reportedly planning to drop its $22 billion order for 737 Max 8 jetliners and switch to rival aircraft from Airbus.
Separately, Garuda Indonesia plans to cut orders of the Boeing plane and a $5.9 billion order from a unit of Saudi Arabian Airlines hangs in the balance.
The 737, which first entered service in the late 1960s, is the aviation industry’s best-selling model and Boeing’s top earner. The re-engineered Max version has racked up more than 5,000 orders worth in excess of $600 billion, including planes that have already been delivered.
Boeing, whose shares have lost 11 per cent of their value this week, faces escalating financial risk after two disasters involving its newest narrow-body jet in the past five months.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump expressed hope on Thursday that the grounding of 737 Max would be temporary. “I hope it is going to be for a short period of time,” he told reporters.