12 Jul 2019

Boeing MAX return to Pacific delayed further

11:58 am on 12 July 2019

The national airlines of Fiji and Samoa face further delays in getting their work-horse aircraft back into service.

An artist impression of the Samoa Airways Boeing 737 Max 9

An artist impression of the Samoa Airways Boeing 737 Max 9 Photo: RNZ Pacific /Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Both Fiji Airways and Samoa Airways hired versions of the Boeing 737 MAX, which were grounded in March after two fatal crashes.

The plane's manufacturer, Boeing, this month acknowleged a new software issue with the MAX, but would not say how or if it would affect the plane's entry back into service.

Boeing's chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said via Twitter that "there's an additional flight condition we must address" in order to address safety issues.

"We agree with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) that we must take action on this and we're already working on the required software," Mr Muilenburg said.

Samoa Airways said it was monitoring developments with the MAX, and that it was finalising options to replace the 737-800 it had leased.

Fiji Airways said it had been in regular contact with Boeing and that it had confidence in the manufacturer to fix the problems.

The 737 MAX's return to service is touted to be October at earliest.