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An airline wants compensation from Boeing after it had to cancel a fifth of its flights due to the 737 Max 9 grounding

Pete Syme   

An airline wants compensation from Boeing after it had to cancel a fifth of its flights due to the 737 Max 9 grounding
  • Copa Airlines executives said they expect compensation from Boeing due to the 737 Max 9 grounding.
  • The Panama-based airline had to cancel over 1,700 flights.

An airline which suffered disruption due to the 737 Max 9 grounding last month wants compensation from Boeing.

The Panama-based carrier Copa Airlines is the biggest operator of the 737 Max 9 outside the US, with 29 such jets.

During its fourth-quarter earnings call Thursday, CEO Pedro Heilbron said 21 of them were grounded following the Alaska Airlines blowout.

"This unexpected disruption forced us to cancel around 20% of our daily flight schedule, which represented more than 1,700 flights," he added.

Responding to a Deutsche Bank analyst on the call, the airline's chief financial officer, José Montero, declined to give details of the financial impact of the grounding.

However, he added, "There is a pending negotiation with Boeing. We do expect to be fully and fairly compensated."

Heilbron said Copa Airlines remains committed to its relationship with Boeing which it considers "an important partner."

"Nonetheless, we hold them accountable for the grounding and its impact on our passengers and our financials, for which we expect to be fairly compensated," he added.

Copa Airlines was the first carrier to bring the 737 Max 9 back into service after the jet was ungrounded by the Federal Aviation Administration following inspections.

The FAA grounded all 171 such jets with a door plug on January 6, the day after the Alaska Airlines blowout.

The jet's door plug, which covers a deactivated emergency exit, came off in midair — causing an uncontrolled decompression that forced an emergency landing.

In its preliminary report released Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said the jet left Boeing's factory missing key bolts that secure the door plug.

Reached by Business Insider, a Boeing spokesperson referred to comments made by CEO Dave Calhoun about customer frustration, in its fourth-quarter earnings call.

"We understand why they are angry, and we will work to earn their confidence. There's no message, no slogan that will accomplish that," he said. "It's all about real, demonstrated action and absolute transparency every step of the way."


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