Boeing has faced another setback after Flyadeal, a Saudi Arabian low-cost carrier, cancelled its order for up to 50 of the US aircraft maker’s 737 Max jets.
The airline signed a $5.9bn deal for the Boeing aircraft in December but stated on Sunday that it had ordered 30 A320neo aircraft from Airbus — the US company’s European rival — with options for a further 20 of the jets.
Flyadeal said the order would “result in Flyadeal operating an all-Airbus A320 fleet in the future”.
The announcement came as the 737 Max continues to be grounded following two fatal crashes in which 346 people died.
Boeing said in a statement that it wished “the Flyadeal team well as it builds out its operations”, adding that its workforce “continues to focus on safely returning the 737 Max to service and resuming deliveries of Max aeroplanes”.
The order for the A320s was made last month at the Paris Air Show by the carrier’s parent company, Saudi Arabian Airlines.
Flyadeal’s decision is another setback for Boeing, despite International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways, putting in a $24bn order for 200 Boeing 737 Max jets at the air show.
Last week Europe’s aviation safety regulator presented Boeing with a list of outstanding issues it wanted the US aircraft maker to resolve before it would allow the 737 Max back into the skies.
The European Aviation Safety Agency set out a detailed list of topics in a letter addressed to senior management at Boeing as well as at its US counterpart, the Federal Aviation Administration, according to two people close to the situation.
The issues cited in the letter included resolving a new software flaw in the flight control system identified during simulator training by the FAA where an onboard computer appeared to become overloaded and it took the pilots too long to recover the plane from a stall.
The emergence of the new issue prompted Southwest Airlines, the largest 737 Max operator, to push back the reintroduction of the plane into its flight schedules until October 1, a month later than previously planned. Boeing has said it was working on the issue.
EASA also wants Boeing and the FAA to assess whether the average pilot has enough physical strength to turn the trim wheel in the cockpit, an emergency manual crank to help change the angle of the plane’s nose, as well as reviewing how the autopilot engages and disengages when the plane approaches a stall.
The crisis has hit Boeing’s reputation as well as that of the FAA, whose role in originally certifying the plane has come under scrutiny.
Boeing has also pledged to commit $100m to help address the needs of families and communities affected by the crashes. The company is facing several lawsuits from the families of victims
Additional reporting by Sylvia Pfeifer in London and Kiran Stacey in Washington