Saudi airline cancels its order for dozens of Boeing’s 737 Max, sticking with Airbus instead

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Saudi Arabian budget carrier Flyadeal has reversed a commitment to buy as many as 50 Boeing 737 Max jets. It’s become the first airline to officially cancel its order of the aircraft since its grounding after two deadly crashes.

The deal, which included the purchase of 30 Boeing 737 MAX jets and an additional option to buy 20 more, was worth $5.9 billion at list prices. The airline would have been offered a discount on that price tag.

Instead, Flyadeal will operate a fleet made up entirely of Airbus aircraft, the company said in a statement. It will take delivery of 30 Airbus A320neo aircraft starting 2021, with an option to purchase another 20 planes from the European plane manufacturer.

Boeing said that Flyadeal had decided not to go ahead with its provisional order because of “schedule requirements.”

“We understand that Flyadeal will not finalize its commitment to the 737 MAX at this time given the airline’s schedule requirements,” Boeing said.

The deal with the Saudi airline, which had been reached in December, was considered a major victory for Boeing, given the fact that Flyadeal has operated an Airbus fleet.

The decision not to continue with its Boeing jets order follows two deadly crashes involving MAX jets, in Ethiopia in March and in Indonesia last October, which killed a total of 346 people.

Since then the aircraft has been grounded over safety concerns by a number airlines and Boeing has been working on a fix to satisfy regulators so the jets could fly again.

Last week Boeing announced it would give $100 million to help families affected by the crashes. Lawyers for victims’ families were dismissive of the move.

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