'I will never hesitate' to fly in a 737 MAX, Warren Buffett declares

Omaha (United States) (AFP) –


Billionaire Warren Buffett, one of the world's most influential businessmen, said Saturday that he would not hesitate to fly in a Boeing 737 Max airplane, despite the grounding of the planes after two fatal crashes.

"I will never hesitate even for a second to fly on a 737 MAX," he said in response to a question from AFP on the sidelines of the annual shareholder meeting of his Berkshire Hathaway empire in Omaha.

While Buffett, the world's third-richest man, owns stakes in several of the most prestigious American companies -- from Coca-Cola to JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs to Apple and, recently, Amazon -- he holds no shares in Boeing, though he has invested in airlines.

Buffett was responding to a question about the damage to Boeing's reputation after 737 MAX planes were involved in two fatal crashes that left a total of nearly 350 people dead in a span of less than five months.

Boeing's entire 737 MAX fleet has been grounded since shortly after the latest crash in March, while investigators study the incidents and engineers work on solutions.

Another Boeing plane -- a 737 model that preceded the MAX line -- was involved in a rough landing late Friday in Jacksonville, Florida, when it skidded off a runway and into a river, but without causing any serious injuries.

"Planes have never been so safe," Buffett said, even as he encouraged Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg to always make safety a priority.