BANGKOK – Thai authorities announced on Wednesday that it will close its airspace to Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes over security concerns after a deadly air crash in Ethiopia earlier in the week had killed all on board.
On Sunday, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane – a lower model of the Boeing 737 MAX 9 – operated by Ethiopian Airlines, had crashed, killing all 157 people on board.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand said in a statement that no national airlines had the Boeing 737 MAX 8 in its fleet; however, for security reasons they have also suspended the services of three Boeing 737 MAX 9.
The three Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes belong to Thai Lion Air, which is an associate company of Indonesia’s low-cost carrier Lion Air.
On Oct. 29, 2018, a Boeing 737 MAX of the Indonesian Lion Air had crashed into the Java Sea minutes after taking off from Jakarta with 189 occupants on board.
The suspension will come into effect on Thursday and will be in place until March 20.
Thailand has now joined countries such as Ethiopia, China, Australia and Indonesia, among others, who have suspended operations of Boeing 737 MAX planes.
Airlines in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina have also stopped flying these planes.
Meanwhile, New Zealand Authorities on Wednesday announced the temporary suspension of the operation of all Boeing 737 MAX aircrafts.
Hong Kong authorities, too, had announced they will be temporarily banning all Boeing B737 MAX aircrafts from its airspace.
“The CAD has decided to temporarily prohibit operation of Boeing B737 MAX aircraft into, out of and over Hong Kong. The temporary prohibition will take effect at 6pm Hong Kong time on March 13 and continue until further notice,” the Civil Aviation Department said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The temporary prohibition is solely a precautionary measure to ensure aviation safety and protect the public,” the statement added.
On Sunday, Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 had crashed soon after it took off from Addis Ababa International Airport for Nairobi.
After six minutes of flight, the pilot reported difficulties and requested a return to the airport and despite receiving clearance, the plane crashed about 42 kilometers (26 miles) south-east of Addis Ababa, killing everyone on board.