Indonesia lifts ban on Boeing 737 Max

Approval comes three years after fatal crash and months after the aircraft returned to service in the US and Europe

A Lion Air 737 Max 8 on the tarmac at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport near Jakarta, Indonesia. Reuters
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Indonesia has lifted a ban on the Boeing 737 Max, its transport ministry said on Tuesday, three years after the crash of one of the aircraft operated by domestic airline Lion Air with the loss of all 189 people on board.

Aviation authorities around the world grounded the aircraft months later after a similarly deadly accident in March 2019 involving 737 Max operated by Ethiopian Airlines.

The approval for the aircraft's return in Indonesia comes months after it returned to service in the US and Europe, and follows more recent lifting of grounding orders in countries including Australia, Japan, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Ethiopia.

The lifting of the ban was effective immediately and it follows the evaluation of changes to the aircraft's system by regulators, the ministry said.

Airlines must follow airworthiness directives and inspect their planes before they can fly the 737 Max again, it said, adding that the government would also inspect the planes.

Privately owned Lion Air, which operated 10 of the 737 Max planes before the ban, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia said it had no plans to reintroduce the plane to its fleet as it focuses on debt restructuring, chief executive Irfan Setiaputra said.

The state-controlled airline, which operated one 737 Max before the ban, said it plans to cut its fleet from 142 to 66 aircraft.

Anton Sahadi, a relative of one of the passengers on board the Lion Air plane that crashed, urged the government to ensure proper management of the risks before returning the aircraft to service "so that no planes of this model will ever fall and kill people again".

Updated: December 28, 2021, 1:41 PM