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Qantas will use safety record to negotiate cut-price 737 MAX deal

written by Adam Thorn | February 24, 2020

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has hinted he could use the airline’s status as the world’s safest to negotiate a cut-price deal to buy Boeing’s troubled 737 MAX when it returns to service.

Talking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Joyce said, “If you look at it from an opportunity point of view, given the aircraft is going to be very safe, what will Boeing do to get the safest airline in the world to buy the aircraft?”

In January, the Australian national carrier topped a worldwide poll by AirlineRatings.com to determine the least dangerous airline, with the site hailing Qantas’ “amazing record of firsts in operations and safety”.

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Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce

Joyce said, “Qantas itself will put the [MAX] aircraft through its own lens to make sure we’re comfortable with it.”

Qantas is reportedly planning to place an order later this year for a replacement short-haul aircraft, with deliveries expected by the middle of the decade.

Boeing faces competition from Airbus, which has already sold Qantas 109 A320neos. It’s not yet confirmed whether they will be flying under the Qantas or Jetstar brands.

The A320neo has a capacity of 194 passengers and Airbus claims it is the “world’s most advanced and fuel-efficient single-aisle aircraft”.

Meanwhile, Boeing is currently carrying out work and checks on hundreds of 737 MAX jetliners in Seattle that have been built but not delivered due to the worldwide ban imposed last year following two crashes that killed 346 people.

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Last week, Boeing moved quickly to reassure airlines that the discovery of potentially dangerous debris in its fuel tanks would not delay vital maintenance work designed to return the stricken model to service.

The statement came after an internal memo leaked to Reuters revealed how ‘foreign object debris’ – thought to include rags, tools and metal shavings – was found in “several” grounded 737 MAX aircraft in Seattle.

A file image of SilkAir Boeing 737 MAX 8 9V-MBA. (Wikimedia Commons/Anna Zvereva_
SilkAir Boeing 737 MAX 8

In the email, Boeing vice president Mark Jenks called the development “absolutely unacceptable” and added that “one escape is too many”.

Australia is one of 40 countries to have banned the aircraft, alongside territories including China, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Oman, the European Union, Singapore and Canada.

9 Comments

  • AlanH

    says:

    The best way Joyce can gain a “cut-price deal” on the 737 MAX is to bin it entirely. Who needs it? Who will fly it? Who will travel in it? Joyce says “given the aircraft is going to be very safe …” You think? It’s a 1950-60s design trying to be adapted to 21st Century needs. The FOD debacle in the fuel tanks is just another episode in this continuing sorry saga. Time Boeing gave it the flick, licked their wounds and concentrated their efforts on the NMA.

  • Greg

    says:

    It feels like everyday something new, and bad comes out about the MAX. Perhaps Airbus know they’re in a position of strength here and this is Joyce trying to unnerve them.

    I hope they go with the Neos and 220s. Committing to the MAX is risky.

  • Bernard S

    says:

    Agree with ALANH, this plane is yesterdays aircraft and that is the real hidden reason for failure. Boeing treated the modifications to it as a bit ho hum. Sorry that doesn’t cut it! Changing the CofG as they did and trivialising the impact of the automated response system is unforgivable. It is that cultural attitude that seems to pervade that company now. This was a company that people said “if it aint Boeing I’m not going”. Well Alan Joyce can play deals as long as he likes but the public will I am afraid take more convincing!

  • Andrew

    says:

    It’s a beautiful aircraft, and needs to be fixed. Boeing aren’t going to throw away millions more by not continuing with it. Agreed the passenger will be reluctant at first, but if Qantas sign on, then its all go. Qantas need Boeing as Boeing need Qantas.

  • Andre

    says:

    In my booking, I will always check if the plane is a MAX , if it is, I will choose another plane or company. Boing have demonstrated that they can not be trusted.

  • Les

    says:

    Surely Boeing must realise that the potential for a third aircraft failure after clearance would be a company ending event for both manufacturer and carrier and as such, from a risk point of view, the project is dead.

  • Tony

    says:

    Qantas – please no no no – agree with AlanH and Bernard S – wld be huge mistake – public confidence gone in that aircraft – Airbus would appear to have plenty of alternatives .
    IMO Boeing shld have developed the 757 – I feel that was huge mistake not doing that.

  • G Farrance

    says:

    If QANTAS wants to protect its safety record, perhaps it should wait for a reasonable time for it to be flying with other airlines. However, The MAX is an old design dressed up in modern clothes. So it will never be an aircraft that has development potential, unlike other manufacturers.

  • Malki

    says:

    If Qantas chooses to buy lots of MAX aircraft then they should make sure their own engineers check them over themselves. Boeing won’t want to take anymore risks with the MAX. The original design may be decades old but the 737 is built with 21st century technology that has been proven in many other aircraft. The 737MAX has the same technology but has been sorely tested and Boeing has had to pay $billions and if an airline wishes to buy some of these planes after corrections then Boeing should be prepared if Qantas starts losing customers.
    The Travelling public will have the final say in the 737MAX saga…
    Will Boeing buy them back if it is rejected by passengers?
    Will Qantas regret the decision to buy the 737MAX?
    We will have to wait and see if Boeing has made all the corrections needed???

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