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Boeing 737 Max 8 woes stifle Asian airlines' growth plans

Asian airlines are cutting routes, revamping their schedules and leasing extra aircraft to fill the gaps left by groundings of Boeing 737 Max 8s after deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people.

So far, carriers have managed to avoid major disruptions, but analysts expect that idling the Max 8s, a fuel-efficient update of Boeing's popular 737, will crimp growth plans in the near future.

As investigations into the crashes continue, Boeing anticipates a US$1 billion increase in costs related to the 737 Max, including fixing software implicated in the disasters, adding pilot training and compensating airlines and families of crash victims.

In Asia, where air passenger traffic is growing the fastest, the groundings are pushing airlines' costs higher at a time of rising fuel prices, squeezing carriers' profits.

FILE - In this Wednesday, April 10, 2019 file photo, a Boeing 737 Max 8 airplane being built for India-based Jet Airways, takes off on a test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle. Boeing said Sunday, May 5, 2019, that it discovered after airlines had been flying its 737 Max plane for several months that a safety alert in the cockpit was not working as intended, yet it didn't disclose that fact to airlines or federal regulators until after one of the planes crashed. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
A Boeing 737 Max 8 airplane. Source: Associated Press