Unlike Canada, Philippines not banning Boeing jets

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  • The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is not considering banning the use of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets to and from the country.

    “We cannot ground the use of a type of aircraft, unless requested by the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization),” said Eric Apolonio, CAAP spokesman, said on March 12.

    Canada, for its part, has grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 jets from its airspace following fatal crashes.

    The Canadian ban will be in effect until further notice as safety concerns continue to mount following two deadly crashes.

    “This safety notice restricts commercial passenger flights from any air operator, both domestic and foreign, of the Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft from arriving, departing, or overflying Canadian airspace,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau told media on March 13.

    Canada had been one of the last holdouts on temporarily banning the Max 8s in the wake of the recent Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed all 157 people on board, including 18 Canadians.

    The U.K., the European Union, Australia and other countries had moved already to ban the jet from their airspace in response to growing safety concerns.

    Garneau said the decision to issue the safety notice was made after his department received new data suggesting a similarity between the Ethiopian Airlines crash and another deadly crash near Indonesia in October.

    The minister said much of the new information is new and unproven, but added:

    “There are — and I hasten to say not conclusive — but there are similarities that sort of exceed a certain threshold in our minds with respect to the possible cause of what happened in Ethiopia”

    “My departmental officials continue to monitor the situation and I will not hesitate to take swift action should we discover any additional safety issues,” he said.

    U.S. President Donald Trump issued an “emergency order” grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 a few hours after Canada’s decision.

    Garneau said Canada alerted the U.S. to the safety notice on Wednesday morning.

    According to Reuters, the Federal Aviation Administration held urgent meetings on the issue after Canada announced it would become the latest major country to ground the jets.

    Air Canada, which already had cancelled multiple scheduled flights to and from London in response to the U.K. closing its airspace yesterday, said it’s working to rebook passengers.

    “Air Canada’s cancellation and rebooking policies are in place with full fee waiver for affected customers,” said a spokesperson.

    Singapore, Malaysia, China, Fiji, and New Zealand are just some of the countries that suspended the use of the B737 MAX8, while South American countries are evaluating shutting their airspace to the said aircraft.

    Concerns have been raised over the safety of the B737 MAX 8, following the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people onboard last March 10.

    The flight flew from Addis Ababa to Nairobi but reportedly crashed six minutes after take-off.

    The same type of aircraft also crashed in October 2018, killing 189 people on board a Lion Air flight. According to reports, the crash also happened minutes after take-off.

    The B737 MAX 8 is among the variants of the Boeing 737 MAX, an American narrow-body aircraft series. The first delivery of MAX 8 was in 2017 to Malinda Air.

    “It’s a (relatively new) type of aircraft, and we still don’t have it among our local carriers,” CAAP’s Apolonio said, adding that an airline would likely wait for about two years to get the aircraft it has purchased.

    He said one local carrier is waiting for the delivery of a B737 MAX 8. He, however, declined to name the airline and to say how many units of B737 MAX 8 were ordered.

    Executives of Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific (CEB), and AirAsia Philippines told PNA they don’t have the B737 MAX 8, and that most of the aircrafts of budget carriers are Airbus models which are designed for low-cost travel.

    PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said the flag carrier does not have a B737 MAX 8 on its fleet.

    “What we have on our fleet is the B777, which we deploy on our trans-Pacific routes to the US,” she said.

    China and Indonesia have also grounded the use of the B737 MAX 8 since March 11.

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