Lion Air says November passenger numbers fell less than 5% after deadly crash

A Lion Air Boeing 737 passenger airplane on the tarmac at Soekarno Hatta international airport in Jakarta on June 23, 2012.
A Lion Air Boeing 737 passenger airplane on the tarmac at Soekarno Hatta international airport in Jakarta on June 23, 2012.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Lion Air said on Monday (Dec 10) that passenger numbers dropped by less than 5 per cent in November compared to a year earlier, after one of its Boeing Co 737 MAX jets crashed in late October killing all 189 people on board.

"There was a decline but it wasn't too significant," the airline's CEO Edward Sirait told television network CNN Indonesia. "It was under 5 per cent compared to the traffic at the same month last year."

He said Lion Air did not "clearly understand" whether the crash was responsible for the fall in traffic in November, which he said was a low season for travel.

The airline, Indonesia's largest, is privately owned and does not publicly release traffic statistics or financial results.

Mr Sirait said last week Lion Air was considering cancelling orders for 737 MAX jets but it had not yet made a decision.

Sources told Reuters that relations between the airline and Boeing had worsened in a spat over responsibility for the crash.

The airline has 190 Boeing jets worth US$22 billion at list prices waiting to be delivered, on top of 197 already taken, making it one of the largest US export customers.

 

Bankers and some analysts say Lion Air and South-east Asian rivals over-expanded and would be comfortable with fewer orders.

Boeing has declined to comment on contractual matters but industry sources say aerospace companies rarely leave room for unilateral cancellations except in exceptional circumstances.

The cause of the Oct 29 crash into the Java Sea has yet to be determined.