Caribbean Airlines is continuing talks with Boeing on its contract to lease a dozen of its MAX 8 aircraft.
An image of a MAX 8 aircraft with ‘9Y-CAL’ has been posted on various social media platforms. This prompted several citizens to question CAL’s decision to continue its contract with the Chicago-based manufacturer which, up to this week, has faced criticisms internationally for grounding issues related to the Max 8 model.
According to a Reuters exclusive report, Boeing has been asked by US air safety officials to provide documentation showing several 737 MAX subsystems would not be affected by electrical grounding. These issues were first flagged in three areas of the jet in April and have led to the suspension of nearly a quarter of its 737 MAX fleet. The report claimed Boeing is expected to release the service bulletins soon.
Commenting on a Facebook picture of the freshly painted aircraft, several users expressed concern about the aircraft possibly joining CAL’s fleet.
One user said, “After a couple of flights once they don’t crash then I’ll confirm it’s safe to fly”. Another person posted, “I don’t think I want to fly on that”.
At least one Facebook user said he loved “the new paint scheme”.
Guardian Media contacted CAL about the safety concerns posted online as well as to confirm whether the company will be going ahead with the existing arrangement for 12 aircraft.
While we did not receive a direct response, the company eventually released a statement saying, “Caribbean Airlines notes the circulation of an image of a branded MAX-8 aircraft registered as 9Y-CAL, on various social media platforms. The airline advises that discussions with lessors are ongoing, as Caribbean Airlines continues to refine its strategic options with respect to its fleet.”
It was only last December the aircraft was cleared for take-off by the United States Federal Aviation Authority. It was grounded following two fatal crashes in March and October 2019.
Back in 2018, CAL had announced its decision to replace its current fleet by leasing 12 of Boeing’s Max 8. A down payment of US$7 million was made.
In 2019, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced that CAL had been instructed to review the contract with the help of international aviation experts. Minister Imbert also assured that CAL will only go through with the agreement saying, “the aircraft must be certified as fit for purpose”.
Guardian Media also reached out to Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Brian Manning for comment however, up to press time, none was received.