Thailand to ban Boeing 737 MAX 9 flights

Last Updated: Wed, Mar 13, 2019 18:28 hrs

Bangkok: Thai authorities announced on Wednesday that they will close the country's airspace to Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes over security concerns after a deadly air crash in Ethiopia earlier in the week killed all 157 on board.

On Sunday, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane -- a lower model of the Boeing 737 MAX 9 -- operated by Ethiopian Airlines, had crashed shortly after taking off from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. It was a second crash involving the Boeing model in a short span of five months.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand said in a statement that while no national airlines had the Boeing 737 MAX 8 in their fleet, however, for security reasons they were suspending the services of three Boeing 737 MAX 9.

The suspension will come into effect on Thursday and will be in place until March 20, Efe news reported.

The three Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes belonged to Thai Lion Air, an associate company of Indonesia's low-cost carrier Lion Air.

On October 29, 2018, a Boeing 737 MAX of the Indonesian Lion Air had crashed into the Java Sea minutes after taking off from Jakarta with 189 occupants on board.

New Zealand Authorities also announced the temporary suspension of the operation of all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on Wednesday. Hong Kong authorities, too, announced they will be temporarily banning all Boeing B737 MAX aircraft from its airspace.

The Civil Aviation Department in a statement said that it "decided to temporarily prohibit operation of Boeing B737 MAX aircraft into, out of and over Hong Kong. The temporary prohibition will take effect at 6 p.m. Hong Kong time on March 13 and continue until further notice".

"The temporary prohibition is solely a precautionary measure to ensure aviation safety and protect the public," the statement added.

Despite Boeing's assurances in the wake of the disaster, the European Union, Britain and India joined China and other countries grounding the plane or banning it from their airspace as they await the results of the crash investigation.