Kenya Airways (KQ) has revealed its decision to keep its orders for the Boeing 737-800 Max jets, despite global bans on the aircraft following two deadly crashes. The national carrier plans to order 10 of the planes worth $1.2 billion in what appears to be a bizarre move.
The first incident involving the Indonesian carrier Lion Air which occurred last October killed 189 people. While the second, an Ethiopian Airlines crash, killed 157 people – 36 of which were Kenyans (the most of any nation) – earlier this month.
Last Friday, Indonesian airline became the first carrier to publicly announce the cancellation of its order for 49 of the new Boeing jets worth $6 billion, due to a loss of passenger trust following the crashes.
According to KQ Chairman, Michael Joseph, the only option that the national carrier has planned for is the Boeing 737-800 Max. This is because conducting training and maintenance of the aircraft would be easier.
So far, investigations have shown similarities in the circumstances surrounding both crashes and Boeing has been in a race to fix the software problem suspected to be the cause of the accidents.
“We hope that between now and the time when we are ready to acquire the new fleet, Boeing will have solved the current problem,” Joseph told the Business Daily while addressing the ongoing crisis the aircraft maker is facing over the crash of its planes.
Maintaining cost and fuel efficiency
Although KQ has the option of buying more of the older version of the aircraft which does not have the suspect software, this could see it lose the fuel efficiency – a feature of the new craft.
Another option would be a switch to European manufacturer Airbus, but this would come with additional costs for training its pilots, crew and engineers.
According to the chairman, maintaining the same fleet of Boeing jets is the most cost-efficient option for the national carrier, but its acquisition depends on the maker’s ability to fix safety issues with the new plane series.
Joseph further explained that the ideal situation would be to have aircraft from one manufacturer to make it cheaper to maintain the fleet. This is because having more than three types of aircraft from different manufacturers will raise training and maintenance costs. However, he did not completely discard a switch to Airbus.