By Jamie Freed
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Papua New Guinea carrier Air Niugini has updated its contract with Boeing Co <BA.N> to delay the delivery of its four 737 MAX jets on order until at least 2024, the airline’s chief executive said on Tuesday.
The carrier had been due to receive its first 737 MAX this year.
Air Niugini Chief Executive Alan Milne told Reuters the delay would give the airline more time to complete a broader review of its fleet plans, including a replacement for its smaller Fokker jets.
“This will then determine if the MAX is still appropriate for Air Niugini, or whether another Boeing product would better suit as a replacement for the 737/767,” he said, in reference to older models in the airline’s fleet.
Milne said it was possible the 737 MAX orders could be switched to the smaller Embraer SA <EMBR3.SA> E2 family if Boeing’s deal to buy the bulk of the Brazilian planemaker’s commercial division closes.
“Air Niugini is a valued Boeing customer and we are working closely with the airline to meet its evolving fleet requirements,” a Boeing spokesman said. “Unfortunately, we do not disclose ongoing customer discussions and have no further comment.”
Some other Boeing customers, including Malaysia Airlines, Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd <VAH.AX> and Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA’s <NWC.OL> leasing arm have also postponed the delivery of 737 MAX jets since the model was grounded globally last March after two fatal crashes.
Boeing confirmed on Monday that it has temporarily halted production of the 737 MAX in Washington State in recent days. The company had said in December it would halt production at some point this month.
(Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Paul Simao and Sam Holmes)