April 9, 2019 / 2:43 AM / 4 months ago

China Aircraft Leasing says no change to Boeing 737 MAX order

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings Ltd (CALC) on Tuesday said it has not put its order for 100 Boeing Co 737 MAX jets on hold, rebutting an earlier report by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper.

FILE PHOTO: Employees walk by the end of a 737 Max aircraft at the Boeing factory in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo

The SCMP attributed its information to comments from CALC Chairman Chen Shuang. The Hong Kong-listed lessor said Chen was misquoted.

More than 300 Boeing 737 MAX jets have been grounded worldwide after nearly 350 people died in crashes in Indonesia in October and in Ethiopia last month.

Boeing has also frozen deliveries of the 737 MAX planes as aviation authorities investigate the causes behind both disasters, with the company so far saying that an erroneous activation of so-called MCAS anti-stall software was “a common link” between the two.

The Hong Kong-based newspaper later on Tuesday updated its story to quote CALC Chief Executive Mike Poon as saying the company had not stopped payment, but as deliveries were on hold, it did not need to make any payment for the time being.

A spokeswoman for CALC told Reuters that Poon was referring to Boeing’s overall suspension of deliveries to airlines.

“Our company currently does not have plans to change our Boeing aircraft orders,” she said. She added that CALC’s first Boeing 737 MAX delivery, initially scheduled for the third quarter of this year, could be delayed due to the suspension.

The Hong Kong-listed lessor, controlled by state-owned conglomerate China Everbright Group Co Ltd, placed an order for 50 737 MAX aircraft in June 2017 and later expanded the order.

A Boeing spokesman on Tuesday said the plane maker was focused on supporting customers and to ensure the 737 MAX’s return to commercial flight.

“China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings has been and continues to be a valued customer and we are sorry for any disruption this situation has caused them,” the spokesman said.

Reporting by Brenda Goh and Stella Qiu; Additional Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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