Kenya Airways (KQ) might soon be flying the 10 of the dreaded Boeing 737 Max 8 jets, even as over fifty countries have grounded the plane model over safety concerns.
The national carrier hatched the plan of buying the planes in 2018 at a cost of Ksh120 billion. KQ says that the plan is still on motion, even after two jets of the same model crashed in October 2018 and March 2019.
“We hope that between now and the time when we are ready to acquire the new fleet, Boeing will have solved the current problem,” KQ Chairman Michael Joseph told Business Daily.
Indonesia’s Lion Air cancelled a Ksh600 billion ($6 billion) order for 49 Boeing 737 Max 8 jets and opted to have the Airbus instead.
“The only option that we have planned for is the Boeing 737-800 Max because this will make it easier for us to conduct training and maintenance of the aircraft,” says Mr Joseph.
This brings the big question, would KQ go for what is easy or go for safety?
The plane is suspected to be having a defect in a safety software feature, called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).
The software is believed to have been the cause of the two accidents that claimed that lives of 346 people.
In October 2018, a crush of the same model crashed in Indonesia killing 189 people, while a crash in Ethiopia this months saw 157 people die, 36 of them being Kenyans.
Boeing is now staring at a Ksh5.7 trillion ($57 billion) in case countries decide to cancel orders for the 737 Max 8, which are likely to turn to the competitor, Airbus.
Having the fleet of Boeing 737 Max 8 could see the cash strapped carrier lose customers who are yet to trust the jet. KQ is planning to discard two of its Boeing 737-700 jets before the end of the year to adopt the new model.
The carrier has 40 planes, being a mixture of Boeing jets and the Brazilian-made Embraer 190. 20 planes are fully owned by KQ while another 20 are leased from other companies.