Rusdi Kirana, the chairman of Lion Air Group, has reaffirmed the company’s dedication to the Boeing 737 MAX; the group’s subsidiary, Batik Air Malaysia (ID), is scheduled to receive its first Boeing 737-9 aircraft in early 2023.
On July 11, Kirana made the announcements at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on the authorized re-entry of Boeing’s 737 MAX type into its fleet as well as the rebranding of airline unit Malindo Air to Batik Air Malaysia.
At the launch event on July 11 in Kuala Lumpur, senior Lion Air Group management was present together with the transport minister of Malaysia and the leaders of the nation’s aviation regulators.
Well over 200 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, a combination of -8s and Max 9s, are on order by the Indonesia-based Lion Air Group, which also comprises Thai Lion Air (SL), Lion Air (JT), Super Air Jet (IU), and Batik Air of Indonesia.
The airline group is thus planning to proceed with operations of the type. Kirana, who was responding to a query, says that some of these operations have already resumed in Indonesia.
“[Boeing] spent a lot of time making the [737 Max] safe for travel… We have more than 200 planes on order with Boeing, and we’ll keep getting them because we’ll need additional planes as demand increases so we can lower ticket prices, adds Kirana.
His remarks come as it appears that ID will have 17 Boeing 737-8s in its fleet by year’s end. The airline currently operates four of them, flying passengers to farther-off locations like Pakistan and Australia.
A combination of recently delivered and current Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from the Lion Air Group would make up the new ID fleet.
The Lion Air Group’s past with Boeing
According to Mushafiz Mustafa Bakri, the airline’s CEO, the company is collaborating with Malaysian and US regulators to obtain certification for the larger Boeing 737-9 aircraft. Four (4) -9 aircraft should be delivered to the airline by the first quarter of 2023.
The airline was reportedly planning to put the 737 MAX back into service as early as September 2021, after Malaysia lifted an operational restriction. However, the airline kept silent on its fleet strategy.
The first airline to fly the Boeing 737 MAX in 2017 was ID, formerly known as Malindo. But since the plane was grounded in 2019 after two fatal crashes, it has taken its 737 Max jet fleet out of operation. All 189 passengers and crew perished in a Lion Air-operated 737 MAX that crashed in 2018 after taking off from Jakarta. Regulators throughout the world grounded the 737 Max in 2019 after another crash involving an Ethiopian Airlines (ET) 737 MAX.
The aircraft was recertified in Indonesia, one of the last nations on the globe to do so after it was grounded. Approximately 100 aircraft, or 80% of Indonesia’s JT’s operating fleet, are now in the air, including the Boeing 737 MAX models, according to Kirana.
Featured image: Lion Air HS-LSH. Boeing 737-9 MAX. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways