Boeing: First Airline sues for compensation

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Norwegian Air on Wednesday said it would seek compensation from plane maker Boeing for lost revenue and extra costs after grounding its fleet of 737 MAX 8 aircraft in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

“We expect Boeing to take this bill,” Norwegian Air said in an emailed statement.

The Oslo-based airline has 18 ‘MAX’ passenger jets in its 163-aircraft fleet.

European regulators on Tuesday grounded the aircraft following Sunday’s crash of a similar plane in Ethiopia, which killed 157 people and was the second crash involving that type of plane since October.

Boeing Chief Executive, Dennis Muilenburg, told employees on Monday that he was confident in the safety of the 737 MAX in an email to employees.

Industry sources, however, said the plane maker faces big claims after the crash.

Norwegian has bet heavily on the ‘MAX’ to become its aircraft of choice for short and medium-range flights in coming years as the low-cost carrier seeks to boost its fuel efficiency and thus cut the cost of flying.

The airline was maintaining its order for more aircraft of the same type from Boeing, spokesman, Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen, said.

Norwegian is expected to take delivery of dozens more of the ‘MAX’ in coming years, raising the overall number to more than 70 by year-end 2021, according to recent company announcements.

Norwegian cancelled some flights on Tuesday and on Wednesday, it canceled at least three dozen departures, its website showed most of which were due to fly from airports in Oslo, Stockholm and other Nordic cities.

The company said it aimed to minimise the impact on passengers by booking them on to other flights and utilising other types of planes from its fleet to help fill the gaps.

“We are able to accommodate most intra-European passengers by these efforts but are still working on other options for our passengers travelling between Ireland and the U.S.,” Norwegian said.

Similarly, more countries have joined the ranks grounding Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft amid mounting safety concerns after the second crash of the same model in less than five months.

After assessing information related to operations of 737 Max, “to ensure flight safety,” Vietnam decided to close its air space to 737 Max on Wednesday, Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Authority announced on its website.

Oman “is temporarily suspending operations of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into and out of all Omani airports until further notice,” the country’s Public Authority for Civil Aviation tweeted on Tuesday.

Due to the grounding, the national airline Oman Air said on its website that it will cancel a number of flights on March 12 to March 19.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), another key market for aircraft on the Arabian Peninsula, also banned the operation of all 737 Max 8 models “to ensure the safety of the UAE’s civil aviation industry and the public,” Emirates News Agency said on Tuesday.

Countries that have ordered similar grounding include India, Poland, New Zealand, Fiji, Italy, Turkey, France, Germany, Britain, Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, and China among others.

Roughly two-thirds of the 737 MAX 8 aircraft in the world have been pulled from use by airlines and aviation regulators, according to a The New York Times article on Tuesday.

In October 2018, a Lion Air plane, also a 737 MAX 8, crashed into the sea off the Indonesian capital Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.

In spite the two crashes, Boeing said in a statement on Tuesday that it had “full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX,” adding that “safety is Boeing’s number one priority.”

On the same day it ruled out any new guidance for 737 Max operators, though concerns of some customers and air carriers spread.

The aerospace company has the backing of U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which on Tuesday said it saw “no basis” to ground Boeing 737 Max planes.

The U.S., nevertheless, saw uproar domestically. In Chicago, roughly three dozen lawsuits have been filed against Boeing.