JAKARTA: The crash of a Boeing Co plane that killed 189 people in Indonesia is spiralling into a $22 billion feud between the aircraft maker and one of Asia’s most influential aviation bosses.
In a rare public dispute between the planemaker and one of its biggest customers, the head of PT Lion Mentari Airlines has threatened to cancel an order for billions of dollars’ worth of jets because of what he says is Boeing’s unfair reaction to the crash.
The man standing up to the US aviation giant is Rusdi Kirana, Lion Air’s owner, and while he was little known to the public outside south-east Asia before the crash, he’s something of a legend in the industry.
Eighteen years after he and his brother rented a Boeing 737-200 to start a service from Jakarta to Bali, Kirana, 55, has turned Lion Air into Indonesia’s largest airline, with one of the biggest order books in the world.
“He is, by virtue of the significance of Indonesia, right now probably the most important aviation figure in south-east Asia,” said Shukor Yusof, founder of aviation consultancy Endau Analytics in Kuala Lumpur.