Saudi ban on Boeing MAX flights to continue for near future, says minister

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Saudi Arabia has no immediate plans to allow Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to operate in the Kingdom, its transport minister said on Monday, as state airline flyadeal potentially reconsiders an order for the jets.

Boeing's top-selling MAX has been grounded globally since last month after two fatal crashes involving the same model in five months, the first in Indonesia in October and another on March 10 in Ethiopia.

"There were no 737 MAX flying in the kingdom at the time and there aren’t plans for them to be back in the near future," Minister Nabeel al-Amoudi told reporters at an aviation conference in Riyadh.

Budget carrier flyadeal has said it’s waiting until investigations into the two crashes are completed before deciding if it proceeds with an order for 30 MAX jets.

The order, which includes purchasing operations for 20 more of the same aircraft, is worth $5.9 billion at list prices, according to Boeing.

Attention has focused on the anti-stall system, which is believed to have repeatedly forced the nose lower in at least one of the crashes. The system pushes the plane’s nose down if it believes it is ascending at too steep an angle.

Boeing last week said it had reprogrammed software on its 737 MAX to prevent erroneous data from triggering an anti-stall system.

Saudi Arabia will follow the global aviation industry in any recertification of the MAX, Amoudi said.

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