S. Korea imposes flight ban by B737-Max planes in sovereign airspace

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2019-03-15 15:14 Updated : 2019-03-15 15:14
글씨작게 글씨크게

[Courtesy of Boeing]

SEOUL -- South Korea has imposed a virtual ban on the flight of B737-Max 8s and Max 9s in its air space in a notice sent to foreign and domestic airlines as U.S. aircraft giant Boeing is under international pressure to ensure the safety of its planes. Two B737-Max 8s operated by a domestic budget carrier have been grounded.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said Friday it has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) filed with an aviation authority to alert aircraft pilots of potential hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect the safety of the flight.

The move, which took effect as of 2:10 p.m. (0510 GMT) on Thursday, expires on June 15., the ministry said, adding Boeing's B737-Max planes were banned from landing at domestic airports or flying through South Korea's airspace.

A B737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed this month shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa en route to Nairobi, killing 157 people. The same model of aircraft flown by Indonesian carrier Lion Air went down shortly after taking from Jakarta in October, killing 189 people.

The transport ministry has warned that it would ban the introduction of B737 Max 8s unless Boeing takes action for safety. Korean Air, the top flag carrier in South Korea, and T’way Air, a budget carrier, will not put B737 Max 8s into service when they are delivered this year.

Easter Jet is the only South Korean airline that has operated two B737 Max 8s. This year, 14 B737 Max 8s are to be delivered to South Korean airlines -- six for Korean Air, four for Eastar Jet and four for T’way Air. Under a deal with Boeing in 2015, Korean Air has ordered 30 B737 Max 8s and an option of 20. Jeju Air has agreed to buy 40 B737 MAX jets, and other budget carriers had planned to buy the same plane.