Air Vanuatu is reassuring passengers it is not affected by the rising tide of groundings of the Boeing 737 Max 8 variant following a fatal crash over the weekend.
An Air Ethiopia flight crashed six minutes after take-off, killing all passengers and crew. This follows another fatal crash involving a 737 Max 8, when a Lion Air flight out of Jakarta went down with no survivors, again just minutes after take-off.
Air Vanuatu responded to a request for confirmation from the Daily Post with a statement that “Air Vanuatu does not operate any Boeing 737 Max 8 in its current fleet.
“Air Vanuatu operates a Boeing 737-800 which is a different generation aircraft from the newest Boeing 737 MAX 8. Safety is our first priority and we follow strict operating procedures.
“At this time, Air Vanuatu does not have any plan to include a Boeing 737 MAX 8 in its fleet,” it concluded.
The Civil Aviation Authority Vanuatu (CAAV) notes that in the past six months, two Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft have crashed. While the investigation into both accidents is continuing, there is no immediate answer as to what caused the accidents.
CAAV Director, Jackie Langati Trief says Vanuatu is deeply concerned about these incidents.
“Vanuatu does not have a B737 Max on its aircraft register,” Director Trief conveyed to Daily Post last night.
“However, Fiji Airways is about to commence operation of one into Vanuatu. But until a clear safe outcome is found, the Fiji Airways B737 Max aircraft is being temporarily removed from the Vanuatu Foreign Air Operators’ Certificate.”
She added, “the use of the B737 Max between Fiji and Vanuatu is to be suspended immediately until a permanent solution is found.
“The CAAV regrets any inconvenience to passengers but believes this action is important until more information is available on the cause of the two B737 Max accidents.”
Fiji Airways operates a pair of the 737 Max 8 aircraft. These were grounded following announcements from both Australian and New Zealand civil aviation authorities that these aircraft would not be allowed to operate in their airspace.
A Radio New Zealand report indicates that “Fiji Airways and the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji said they’d made the decision out of deference to other regulators in the region and in response to public concern.”
It also reported that Opposition MPs are calling on the airline to revisit its plan to acquire three more of the aircraft, which it said has only been operating commercially for less than a year.
Elsewhere, the New York Times reports that the CEO of Boeing aircraft personally contacted US President Donald Trump to ask that he hold off from grounding the aircraft type in the United States.
In the same article is reported that the European Union had grounded all 737 Max 8 flights as well.
“With this action, it reported, “roughly two-thirds of the 737 Max 8 aircraft in the world have been pulled from use since an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed on Sunday, killing 157 people.”