Brazil’s Gol becomes first airline to resume 737 MAX flights

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – Brazilian airline Gol said it was the first company yesterday to resume commercial flights with the Boeing 737 MAX, nearly 21 months after the plane was grounded worldwide following two deadly crashes.

“For the past 20 months, we have been carrying out the most intensive safety review in the history of commercial aviation,” Gol’s vice president for operations, Celso Ferrer, said in a statement.

“Safety comes first and foremost.” Gol, the biggest domestic airline in Brazil, said 140 of its pilots had undergone training on the newly overhauled jet in the United States (US).

The company said it expected to have its full fleet of seven 737 MAX planes back in the air by the end of the year. Gol did not immediately respond to a request for further information.

Brazilian news site UOL cited the company’s chief executive, Paulo Kakinoff, as saying that any passenger who did not feel comfortable flying on the 737 MAX would be allowed to reschedule the flight any time at no cost.

The MAX was grounded in March 2019 after two crashes that together killed 346 people. The fallout of the 2018 Lion Air and 2019 Ethiopian Airlines crashes plunged Boeing into crisis – made worse for the US aerospace giant by the upheaval the coronavirus pandemic has brought for the travel industry.