Flydubai chairman Sheikh Ahmed says Airbus A320 Neo is an 'option' for the airline
Flydubai has a “right” to ask for compensation from Boeing after being forced to ground its current fleet of 737-Max aircraft, according to airline chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
Following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft in March, Flydubai grounded its current fleet of 13 737s as a precautionary measure which in turn led to the airline cancelling up to 15 flights each day.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, Sheikh Ahmed - who is also the chairman of Emirates Group - said that he plans to seek compensation from Boeing over the groundings.
“I have to ask. It is my right,” he said. “I didn’t ground those aircraft just because I wanted to. Even If I wanted to fly this aircraft, I won’t be able because nobody will allow it to fly within their airspace.”
Sheikh Ahmed declined to reveal how much compensation Flydubai would seek from Boeing, saying he “doesn’t know” the figure.
Additionally, Sheikh Ahmed said that the airline is now exploring the option of modifying its November 2017 order to purchase 225 737 Max aircraft from Boeing in a deal valued at $27 billion, and instead may turn to Airbus aircraft such as the A320Neo.
“That [the groundings] gives me an option to talk to Airbus,” he said. “I have to leave that option. I can’t just not do anything about it.
“I have to see when this aircraft will be flying again and what assurances I’ll be getting, and how much I’ll be getting compensated for what’s happened since the incident,” he added.
Sheikh Ahmed declined to give any timeframe for a decision on the existing Boeing order, but said he can’t “not do anything” to ensure the continued growth of Flydubai.
Additionally, Sheikh Ahmed said he believes that communications between Flydubai and Boeing “could be better” in the wake of the incident.
“I say that because that would be good for everybody to understand it and also for our customers, so we can communicate better [with them],” he explained.
Specifically, Sheikh Ahmed said he hopes for more clarity from Boeing on when the 737 Max would be flyable again, the reprogramming of its anti-stall system and other news measures, and what additional training could be necessary going forward.
“I don’t want the delay to continue,” he said. “We are a big operator.”
Earlier this week, Flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith said that the 737 Max remains “an important part of Flydubai’s present and future” and that discussions about possible compensation would take place “at the right time.”