March 14, 2019 / 4:59 PM / in 2 months

UPDATE 1-Flydubai says Boeing 737 MAX remains integral to future strategy

(Adds additional flydubai comment in last paragraph)

DUBAI, March 14 (Reuters) - Middle Eastern carrier flydubai said on Thursday the Boeing 737 MAX, grounded after two fatal crashes in five months, remained integral to its future strategy.

State-owned flydubai is one of the biggest customers of the MAX aircraft, having ordered 250 of the new model narrowbody jets since 2013. It currently operates 13 MAX 8 and MAX 9s.

“We recognise this is a unique and complex situation underpinned by safety and regulation. There are a number of procedural factors that our experienced teams are working through,” an airline spokeswoman said.

“Flydubai continues to work closely with its regulator and Boeing and we value our long-standing relationship with these partners. Our MAX aircraft remain an integral part of our strategy for the future.”

The 737 MAX is banned from flying in most countries following an Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday that killed all 157 people on board.

A different type of 737 operated by flydubai crashed in Russia in 2016, killing all 62 people on board. That incident remains under investigation though a preliminary report suggested pilot error was to blame.

The preliminary report did not state any conclusions, said the flydubai spokeswoman. (Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Mark Potter)

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