Due to MAX-related safety concerns, Somon Air (SZ, Dushanbe) is trying to convert its order for a single B737-8 from Air Lease Corporation to a B737-800, CEO Thomas Hallam told Forbes.

However, sudden global demand for the B737NextGen and its resulting limited availability has impacted the carrier's options, he added.

Regarding the order for a single MAX 8 from the lessor, Hallam told ch-aviation earlier this year that it had been put on hold after the type's global grounding. He added, however, that Somon Air had not cancelled the order.

"There's been an order from the board of directors to stop the order. They're just hearing things and none of it’s positive … I am not willing to go forward until the aircraft is back in operation, until there's some experience - beyond my own personal experience - that can be convincing, so that people [in Tajikistan] will be open to my argument," Hallam told Forbes.

Somon Air planned to add the MAX 8 to operate its services from Dushanbe to Frankfurt Int'l without payload restrictions and potentially add new medium-haul routes. According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, the Tajik carrier currently operates two B737-300s, two -800s, and two B737-900(ER)s.