The FTSE 100 travel firm, which currently has around 15 MAX 8 aircraft in its fleet, said in a statement that any customers due to fly home as well as those scheduled to depart using the MAX 8, would be flown using different models.
The news stood in stark contrast to a reassuring statement on Monday when TUI said there was “no indication” that its MAX 8s could not be operated in a safe manner like its other aircraft.
Despite the delays, a TUI spokesperson told Proactive that the company would not be cancelling any flights or leasing any new aircraft to cover the gap left by the grounded planes. "We're just using our own fleet, it's just about moving aircraft around," they said, adding that all flights were "going ahead as normal".
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority said that it had been “closely monitoring the situation” and said that “as a precautionary measure” it would ground all flights of the aircraft coming in and out of the country.
The move follows similar decisions by regulators in China, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa, after an aircraft of the same model came down in Ethiopia on Sunday, killing everyone on board. The incident followed a previous crash off Indonesia in October which also killed all passengers and crew.
While the causes of the two accidents have not been confirmed, there is speculation that it may be due to a fault in the stability computer that helps keep the plane in the air, with manufacturer Boeing Co (NYSE:BA) already seeing its share price suffer as a result.
The grounding of the MAX 8 in the UK could also cause more trouble for airlines that have ordered the aircraft and its variants in large numbers.
One is budget carrier Ryanair Holdings PLC (LON:RYA), which currently has around 110 orders for the MAX 200, a high-capacity version of the MAX 8, with options on 100 more to help grow its fleet to 585 by 2024 from its current size of 400.
In mid-afternoon trading Tuesday, TUI shares were down 1.9% at 749.4p.
-- Adds comment from TUI spokesperson and updates share price --