Aviation authorities around the world grounded the aircraft
months later after a similarly deadly accident in March 2019 involving one of
the aircraft operated by Ethiopian Airlines.
The approval for the aircraft’s return in Indonesia comes
months after it returned to service in the United States and Europe, and
follows more recent lifting of grounding orders in countries including
Australia, Japan, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Ethiopia.
The lifting of the ban was effective immediately and it
follows the evaluation of changes to the aircraft’s system by regulators, the
ministry said in a statement.
Airlines must follow airworthiness directives and inspect
their planes before they can fly the 737 MAX again, it said, adding that the
government would also inspect the planes.
Privately owned Lion Air, which operated 10 of the 737 MAX
planes before the ban, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia said it had no plans
to reintroduce the plane to its fleet as it focuses on debt restructuring,
chief executive Irfan Setiaputra told Reuters.
The state-controlled airline, which had operated one 737 MAX
before the ban, has said it plans to cut its fleet from 142 to 66 planes under
Anton Sahadi, a relative of one of the passengers on board
the Lion Air plane that crashed, urged the government to ensure proper
management of the risks before returning the aircraft to service “so that no
planes of this model will ever fall and kill people again”.
“The trauma is still there,” he said.