Lion Air’s most recent crash involving a Boeing plane that killed 189 people is now turning into a US$22 billion feud between the aircraft maker and one of Asia’s most influential aviation bosses.
The head of Lion Mentari Airlines has threatened to cancel an order for billions of dollars worth of jets because of what he says is Boeing’s unfair reaction to the crash. The man standing up to the US aviation giant is Rusdi Kirana, Lion Air’s owner. Mr Kirana, 55, has turned Lion Air into Indonesia’s largest airline, with one of the biggest order books in the world.
“He is, by virtue of the significance of Indonesia, right now probably the most important aviation figure in South-east Asia,” said Shukor Yusof, founder of aviation consultancy Endau Analytics in Kuala Lumpur.
Lion Air is the third-largest buyer of Boeing’s updated 737. But seven weeks after a two-month-old 737 Max jet operated by the carrier plunged into waters off Jakarta, Mr Kirana has started a public spat with the planemaker. Lion Air is drafting documents to scrap its US$22 billion of orders with Boeing because, Mr Kirana says, the manufacturer unfairly implicated his airline in the disaster.
Boeing wouldn’t comment on the discussions with Mr Kirana, but said in a statement that “Lion Air is a valued customer and we are supporting them through this difficult time.” The company said it is “taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this accident, and are working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved.”
Source: Business Times
Photo: Associated Press