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Summer holiday travel chaos warning after Boeing safety crisis leads to plane shortages

Simon Calder’s Travel

There are fears of holiday travel chaos this summer as a safety crisis at plane manufacturer Boeing leaves airlines struggling to secure enough planes for peak season.

Avia Solutions, the world’s largest aircraft leasing company, has warned carriers in Europe were likely to reduce the number of flights they put on due to a lack of aircraft and may have to cancel some flights.

Aerospace giant Boeing’s safety standards are currently under increased scrutiny following several recent incidents, including one where a disused door fell off a brand new 737 Max shortly after take-off. There were no injuries.

Last month a FedEx Airlines Boeing cargo plane landed at Istanbul Airport without the front landing gear deployed but managed to stay on the runway.

Holidaymakers faced chaos in 2022 after flights were cancelled and cross-Channel rail services were hit by major delays (PA)

Five years ago, Boeing agreed to pay $2.5bn and make safety improvements after two new 737 Max jets crashed within the space of five months – one in Indonesia in 2018 and one in Ethiopia in 2019, killing a total of 346 people.

Gediminas Ziemelis, chairman of Dublin-based Avia, which on Wednesday raised $300m (£236m) in a bond issue, said the plane shortage was likely to be exacerbated by what he described as “super demand” following the Covid pandemic.

“The last time there was anything like this was when traffic rebounded after 9/11,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“Airlines are desperate for aircraft because of the production problems but the well is dry,” he added.  “I think in this dislocated system that cancellations are quite possible.”

US officials this week warned Boeing it could face criminal charges after claims the airline failed to improve plane safety and adhere to a settlement after the deadly 737 crashes.

A gaping hole where the paneled-over door had been on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, on 7 January 2024 (National Transportation Safety Board)

Dave Calhoun, Boeing’s president and chief executive, admitted the firm was at fault for the door blowout, which happened on an Alaska Airlines flight from Portland.

Adding to the problem are concerns about engines on Airbus passenger jets. A large number of the planes were earmarked to have their engines removed and inspected after manufacturer Pratt & Whitney discovered a problem that could cause parts…

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