By Jamie Freed
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s aviation regulator said on Friday it would lift a near two-year ban on flights to and from the country that use the Boeing (NYSE:) Co 737 MAX aircraft, making it the first nation in the Asia-Pacific region to do so.
“We…are confident that the aircraft are safe,” Graeme Crawford, the acting chief of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, said in a statement.
The regulator has accepted the comprehensive return-to-service requirements set by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as state of design for the 737 MAX, he added.
No Australian airlines operate the 737 MAX, but Fiji Airways and Singapore Airlines (OTC:) Ltd operated them on flights with Australia before the craft were grounded in March 2019 after two deadly crashes.
Crawford said it was unclear when those airlines would resume flights to Australia given the disruption by COVID-19 to international air travel.
Fiji Airways and Singapore Airlines, which will also need to receive approvals to fly from their national aviation regulators, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Regulators in the United States, Europe, Britain, Canada, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates are among those that have already approved the jet’s return to flight following technical modifications and additional pilot training.
Boeing is still working with regulators and customers to return the 737 MAX to the skies in Asia, a senior executive said on Thursday.
China was the first country globally to ban the 737 MAX from its airspace in 2019 and it has not indicated when it will lift the ban.
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