Blanket ban on 737 MAX aircraft from HK skies

Hong Kong airspace is completely off-limits to Boeing 737 MAX aircraft following the horrific crash in Ethiopia.

Charlotte Luo

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Hong Kong airspace is completely off-limits to Boeing 737 MAX aircraft following the horrific crash in Ethiopia.

The ban came into effect at 6pm yesterday and will continue until further notice.

An Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 airplane crashed on Sunday in Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board.

The Civil Aviation Department issued the ban at 2.30pm - some 24 hours after it said it was closely monitoring the situation.

Several countries - including Britain, Singapore and Australia - earlier banned the MAX 8 jet from using their airspace.

"The temporary prohibition is solely a precautionary measure to ensure aviation safety and protect the public," a spokesman for the department said.

The authority had been in close contact with the two airlines that operate MAX 8 aircraft into and out of Hong Kong. India's SpiceJet and Russia's Globus Airlines said they will maintain their Hong Kong routes with other types of aircraft.

SpiceJet flew a MAX 8 jet from Hong Kong to New Delhi at 7.40am yesterday.

The department said it will continue to closely monitor the developments and will review the temporary prohibition in due course, the spokesman said.

On Tuesday night, the department said US aviation officials were looking into the airworthiness of 737 MAX aircraft and the investigation into the accident was still ongoing.

The department earlier said Mongolian Airlines and Garuda Indonesia have also been using 737 MAX aircraft for flights to and from Hong Kong, but they have since grounded the planes.

There are no 737 aircraft, including the MAX series, registered in Hong Kong.

Sunday's crash happened less than five months after a Lion Air plane of the same model went down in the Java Sea off Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board.

The MAX series includes models 7 to 10 and the 200. As of January, the 737 MAX had received 5,011 orders and delivered 350 planes.

Following the latest crash, a long list of countries and airlines grounded MAX 8 aircraft, including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Germany and New Zealand.

Individual airlines doing the same include Britain's TUI Airways, Norwegian Airlines, Aerolineas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Icelandair, Russia's S7 Airlines, Brazilian airline GOL Linhas Aereas and South Korean low-cost carrier Eastar Jet.

Apart from Hong Kong, those which have banned the entire MAX series from its airspace include the European Union, Singapore, Australia, Britain, France, Ireland, and India.

Meanwhile, American Airlines - which has two dozen MAX 8 aircraft in its fleet - said it has no plans to ground them at the moment.

Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Flydubai, Canadian airline WestJet will not ground the model either.

charlotte.luo@singtaonewscorp.com