Far Eastern Air Transport Corp (FAT, 遠東航空) on Tuesday said that it is considering canceling a plan to add 11 Boeing Co 737 MAX planes to its fleet as the US company has not solved the problems with the jets following two crashes since October last year.
FAT originally planned to operate its new international flights after taking delivery of two 737 MAX jets by the end of this year.
As the 737 MAX has been grounded worldwide since March and Boeing has still failed to provide a solution to regulators, FAT is mulling replacing the 737 MAX order with Airbus SE A321 jets, FAT spokeswoman Patty Lu (盧紀融) said by telephone.
“Airbus has introduced its jets to us and we are interested. A321 aircraft would be a good choice for our new international flights,” Lu said.
As FAT has not paid a deposit to Boeing and suspended the purchase of 737 MAX jets after the accidents, there would be no cost for the company if it decides to purchase the new aircraft from Airbus, she said.
The company would need to take some time to make a final decision, she added.
The airline decommissioned one McDonnell Douglas MD-82 aircraft last month and plans to retire three other MD-83 aircraft in November and December, which would reduce the number of its McDonnell Douglas fleet to four, Lu said.
The remaining four are to be retired by early 2022, she added.
To replace the aged airplanes, the company has taken delivery of six ATR 72-600 jets, with another two due to join the fleet in November and December, Lu said.
FAT would decide whether to take delivery of a ninth ATR plane in February next year, depending on the outlook of the domestic and global aviation industry, she said.
“After the decommissioning is completed, the average age of our aircraft will be lower, which means higher fuel efficiency and lower operational costs,” Lu said.
The Civil Aeronautics Administration said that it has a neutral view regarding FAT’s choice of aircraft, Flight Standards Division Director Clark Lin (林俊良) said by telephone yesterday.
“As FAT has never applied to use A321 jets, it would need to submit a new preliminary plan if it decides to cancel the 737 MAX order, but if it decides to stick to the 737 MAX we would have to scrutinize the problems with the jet,” Lin said.
FAT posted revenue of NT$2.116 billion (US$67.78 million) for the first half of this year, up 21.33 percent year-on-year, while cumulative profit was NT$44 million, or earnings per share of NT$0.13, Lu said.