World News

Latest 737 MAX delay prompts big buyer flydubai to consider leasing options

DUBAI (Reuters) – Airline flydubai, a major Boeing <BA.N> 737 MAX customer, is considering leasing additional aircraft following the latest setback to the grounded jet’s return to service.

Boeing said on Tuesday it now does not expect to win approval to return the 737 MAX to service until mid-year.

The MAX jet had recently been expected to be approved by regulators to return to service in February or March.

“We are looking at short to medium-term leasing options to add more capacity for the coming few months,” a flydubai spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

State-owned flydubai’s order for 250 MAX jets is the second largest for the model after U.S. airline Southwest <LUV.N>.

The Dubai-based carrier had received only a fraction of those before the MAX was grounded last March.

To help offset that missing capacity, flydubai leased four previous model 737-800 jets from Dec 14 to Jan 25.

It has warned the MAX grounding is putting significant financial pressure on the airline, and said it could replace MAX jets with aircraft from rival planemaker Airbus <AIR.PA>.

Boeing’s best-selling airliner was grounded after being involved in two crashes which killed all 346 passengers and crew aboard.

The grounding forced airlines to park more than 300 aircraft.

(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; editing by Jason Neely)