Boeing agrees to defer delivery of second Comair 737 MAX 8

Boeing has agreed to defer the delivery of Comair's second Boeing 737 MAX 8, the South African aviation company said on Thursday.

The SA airline continues to consult with Boeing, technical experts and other operators, it told Fin24.  

Comair's 737 MAX 8 - which was delivered in February and used as part of its British Airways fleet - was the only aircraft of its type in commercial use by a South African airline.

The airline voluntarily withdrew its 737 MAX 8 from its schedule on March 11 following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 and the subsequent launch of an investigation. 

Boeing announced on Wednesday evening that it continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX 8.

However, it said in a statement that, after consultation with the US Federal Aviation Administration and its customers around the world, it decided "out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft's safety" to recommend the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

This effectively amounts to 371 aircraft operated by 47 airlines globally being temporarily grounded.  


Comair was the first airline in Southern Africa to acquire the 737 MAX 8, ordering eight of the aircraft. 

The second was due for delivery this month and the last one is scheduled for delivery in 2022. This forms part of the airline's fleet renewal strategy, as Fin24 previously reported.

Comair's fleet renewal strategy has been delivering results since it began in 2001 and the airline now uses 55% less fuel per passenger. 

It previously said its aim is to replace its remaining Boeing 737-400s, because the 737 MAX 8 offers more seats, lower operating costs and less maintenance downtime. This would enhance operating efficiency and improve punctuality, it said. 

Comair said it will continue to monitor the various investigations by relevant authorities, adding it is in close contact with both Boeing and the SA Civil Aviation Authority.