Dushanbe, Tajikistan - Tajik carrier Somon Air wants to convert a Boeing 737 MAX 8 to the Boeing 737-800 due to the safety concerns and uncertainty surrounding the aircraft.
Last year, the airline signed a lease agreement with the American lessor Air Lease Corporation to add a Boeing 737 MAX 8 to its fleet. Somon Air is expected to receive the aircraft later this year, but the management wants to replace it now with its predecessor Boeing 737-800.
The worldwide grounding of the 737 MAX jets after two deadly crashes increased global demand to the Boeing's previous generation single-aisle.
Last week, the American aircraft manufacturer delivered the last Boeing 737 NG to the Singapore-based lessor BOC Aviation. The limited availability of the legendary single-aisle would impact the Tajik operator's decision.
There's been an order from the board of directors to stop the order. They just hear things and none of it positive … I am not willing to go forward until the aircraft is back in operation until there's some experience - beyond my own personal experience - that can be convincing, so that people in Tajikistan will be open to my argument, Somon Air CEO Thomas Hallam told Forbes.
Somon Air had planned to launch new medium-haul routes with the arrival of the 737 MAX 8, such as Dushanbe - Frankfurt.
Tajikistan's only private airline currently operates two Boeing 737-300, two Boeing 737-800, and two B737-900ER.