The estate of defunct Comair (South Africa) has announced it is seeking USD83 million in damages from Boeing in a US federal court, citing fraud and breach of contract concerning the purchase of eight B737 MAXs.

In a summons filed in the US District Court in Seattle on February 6, 2023, Comair accuses Boeing of placing profits over safety and having led with a plan of deception. Comair said it had "relied on Boeing's misrepresentations and concealment of material facts in deciding to purchase eight B737 MAX aircraft".

Boeing declined to comment on inquiry from ch-aviation. "We don’t comment on pending litigation," a spokesperson said.

In a statement issued in Seattle, Comair said it had paid Boeing more than USD45 million in advanced payments for seven B737-8s and full payment on the one B737 MAX it had received. ZS-ZCA (msn 60432) was delivered on February 25, 2019, according to the ch-aviation fleets module.

Comair cancelled the order following the worldwide 20-month grounding of the type in the wake of two fatal accidents, but Boeing refused to return the advanced deposits on the seven aircraft it never delivered. The airline said it had "suffered additional damages as a result of the grounding of its B737 MAX for a total loss of more than USD83 million".

The B737 MAX deal is said to have contributed to the demise of the 76-year-old South African airline, which was provisionally liquidated in the South African High Court on June 14, 2022. Its final winding-up has been postponed to June 30, 2023, after 34 unnamed parties expressed interest in submitting offers for Comair as a going concern or for its assets.

Comair said it had entered into a purchase agreement with Boeing on September 19, 2013, for eight B737 MAX aircraft for a total aircraft base price of more than USD98 million.

However, on October 28, 2018, a B737 MAX of Lion Air (Flight 610) crashed after take-off from Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta, Indonesia, killing 189 people, followed by the March 10, 2019, crash of another B737 MAX of Ethiopian Airlines's (Flight 302) that left 157 people dead.

Shortly thereafter, all of Boeing's B737 MAX aircraft were grounded worldwide.

The airline held the franchise for British Airways in Southern Africa and operated South Africa's first budget carrier Kulula Air (Johannesburg O.R. Tambo).