Garuda Indonesia scraps order for 49 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets after crashes

22 March 2019, 09:46 | Updated: 22 March 2019, 12:37

Indonesia's national carrier Garuda has cancelled a multibillion-dollar order for 49 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets after two fatal crashes involving the plane.

It is thought to be the first airline to publicly confirm cancellation of an order for the model.

Garuda spokesman Ikhsan Rosan said the company had sent a letter to Boeing "requesting that the order be cancelled".

He said Garuda passengers in Indonesia had "lost trust" and no longer have "confidence" in the plane, adding that the airline was awaiting a response from Boeing.

The Indonesian airline ordered 50 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets in 2014 for $4.9bn (£3.7bn).

It has already received one of the planes, and Mr Ikhsan said the carrier was in talks with Boeing about whether or not to return it.

The airline has already paid Boeing around $26m (£19.8m), Garuda's director, Gusti Ngurah Askhara Danadiputra, told Indonesian media outlet Detik.

"In principle, it's not that we want to replace Boeing, but maybe we will replace (these planes) with another model," he said.

The scrapping of the order comes amid reports that Boeing would be making a safety feature - a cockpit warning light - standard on its 737 MAX 8 aircraft. The feature was previously optional.

It is expected to be offered as part of a software update to the MAX fleet that was grounded in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash earlier this month. The crash left 157 people dead.

ET302 was on its way to Nairobi in Kenya at the time of the crash. Nine Britons were among the dead.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Boeing promised to upgrade some flight control software "in the coming weeks".

It has since also grounded its entire global fleet of 737 MAX 8s and 9s.

The cause of the crash is still being investigated, but the pilot had reported difficulties and requested to return to the airport.

A Lion Air plane of the same model crashed into the Java Sea in October last year, shortly after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia - killing all 189 on board.

Earlier this week, it emerged the pilots of the aircraft frantically scoured a manual before their plane crashed

Recordings from the cockpit suggest the pilots were struggling to understand why the jet was lurching downwards, but ran out of time before it hit the water.