Turkish Airlines Preps Lawsuit Over Boeing 737 MAX Uncertainty

Turkish Airlines is preparing a lawsuit against Boeing over the grounding of the 737 MAX, reports Reuters. This news comes just days after Irish aircraft lessor Timaero Ireland Ltd filed its own lawsuit against Boeing about the 737 MAX on Tuesday. Are other airlines going to follow?

Turkish Airlines Boeing
Turkish Airlines is an important Boeing customer, with a fleet that includes almost 100 737-800 aircraft alone. Photo: Getty Images

Lawsuit details

More than six months ago, Turkish Airlines’ chairman said the airline expects compensation over the grounding of the 737 MAX. Now, the Turkish flag carrier is preparing to open a court case to receive that expected compensation.

The reported reason why Turkish Airlines wants compensation is the “uncertainty” over the grounding of the MAX. Turkish also does not believe that Boeing has made an “adequate statement” on the matter, which is what is causing the uncertainty to begin with.

This news comes just days after Boeing announced it would be suspending the production of the 737 MAX for an indefinite time period.

Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines will reportedly blame Boeing for causing uncertainty. Photo: Turkish Airlines

With no way to predict when the 737 will join its fleet again, Turkish Airlines has had to limit its planned expansion. This comes at a time when the airline has been placed at the core of Turkey’s strategy of economic expansion through massive tourism growth.

However, it is unclear how exactly Turkish Airlines intends to prove that Boeing is liable for this uncertainty, given that the decision to allow the 737 MAX back into service lies with governmental safety agencies and not Boeing itself.

Simple Flying has contacted Turkish Airlines for a comment.

How Turkish is responding

Turkish Airlines currently has 24 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, all grounded. 12 of these are still in Seattle, according to Daily Sabah.

The airline is awaiting the delivery of 75 additional aircraft. Since the arrival of these has now been pushed back indefinitely, Turkish has amended its schedules. This includes a 7% cut in seat capacity so far this year.

The decline in capacity is mostly on Turkish’s domestic services, but as these are used to feed its vast international network, the airline is suffering a decline in demand across its network.

Turkish Airlines jet take-off
Turkish Airlines is in the midst of a significant expansion, and the 737 MAX and the A321 (pictured) are an important part of this strategy. Photo: Russell Lee via Flickr

How the grounding is hurting Turkish Airlines

Such was the impact that Turkish is revising its projected passenger numbers for this year downward from 80 to 76 million. At the same time, its revenue target was reduced from $14.1 billion to $13.4 billion, as reported by Daily Sabah.

Even the company’s load factor is now down, from 82% last year to 81.7% so far this year. And this is for an airline that has over 200 Airbus A320 family aircraft and other Boeing 737 models apart from the MAX in its fleet to fall back on.

Meanwhile, the likes of Ryanair and Copa Airlines operate a Boeing-only fleet and have far more 737 MAX aircraft on order. Ryanair has already closed 4 bases in Spain because of this. Should Boeing expect more lawsuits by other airlines if this saga continues?

Do you think more lawsuits by airlines will follow? Let us know in the comments.