Korea's largest budget carrier Jeju Air will cancel the purchase of the troubled Boeing 737 Max 8, if it is not deemed fully safe for operation, according to the carrier's CEO Lee Seok-joo, Thursday.
His remark comes after safety concerns emerged about the model after a crash of the same model aircraft operated by Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air in the last six months.
"We will not bring in the B737 Max jets if international consensus about the aircraft's safety is not formed," Lee said during a press conference at Mayfield Hotel in Seoul. "In other words, we'll continue the delivery process if the manufacturer fully proves that its aircraft is safe and secure."
Jeju Air inked a deal with Boeing to purchase 50 B737 Max 8 planes including 10 options, and is scheduled to bring them in stages from 2022 to 2027.
"We are scheduled to bring in the jets by 2022, so we have time and we will take a very conservative approach and wait to see what actions the manufacturer takes," Lee said.
The model was first introduced in 2017, and over 371 units have been in operation worldwide and 5,000 are on order, becoming Boeing's best-selling aircraft.
Lee says Jeju Air's top focus will be safety. "In the aftermath of the accidents, upgrading our safety operation system will be our top priority. We will be going back to basics and thoroughly inspect and enhance our operation system."
Meanwhile, the carrier will invest more in attracting new customers and enhancing its customer service.
"In the latter half of this year we will become the country's first low-cost carrier to have its own lounge in Incheon International Airport," the CEO said. "We are creating more reasons for customers to fly with Jeju Air."
In February, Jeju Air received flight rights to operate between Busan and Singapore, and plans to launch the service on the new route in July.