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Indian budget airline SpiceJet resumes Boeing 737 MAX operations

Aviation Updates Philippines – After being grounded following two fatal accidents for more than two years, India's SpiceJet has resumed operations of its Boeing 737 MAX.

Image: SpiceJet Boeing 737 MAX (Credit: Boeing)

Following the go-ahead given by India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the airline operated its first flight using the 737 MAX since the grounding between New Delhi and Gwalior on November 23.

Speaking on the resumption of flights using the 737 MAX, SpiceJet's Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh was quoted on the Times of India saying: “I am extremely excited to see the 737 MAX, the mainstay of our fleet, back in operations. The return of the MAX will be a game-changer for SpiceJet and allow us to offer a vastly superior flying experience to our passengers.”

Indian aviation authorities grounded the 737 MAX in 2019 after two fatal accidents – Lion Air JT610 and Ethiopian Air ET302 – within a five-month period in late 2018 and in early 2019. In late August 2021, the Indian DGCA lifted the grounding of the aircraft as airlines in other countries have since resumed flights using the MAX.

Since the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lifted its grounding of the 737 MAX in November 2020, it has been reported that more than 32 airlines have resumed flights with the aircraft flying over 235,000 commercial flights with 575,000 flight hours. 175 out of 195 global aviation regulators have opened their airspace to the MAX.

Addressing the past safety issues and the immediate future of the MAX with SpiceJet, Singh further added: “After the intense scrutiny this aircraft has gone through, I can say with full confidence that it's the safest aircraft to fly. The return of the MAX comes at the perfect time for SpiceJet. With passenger traffic picking up and the government allowing airlines to operate at full capacity, our new planes will allow us to expand our network ahead of the busy travel season and play a major role in our future expansion. With significant cost saving capabilities, we expect a significant reduction in our operating costs improving our bottom line.”

The grounding of the 737 MAX heavily affected SpiceJet – the lone operator of the aircraft in India. SpiceJet placed an order for 205 of the MAX in a deal with Boeing worth around USD $22 billion in 2017. 13 of the aircraft have been delivered to SpiceJet.

With SpiceJet resuming operations with the 737 MAX, another airline – Akasa Air – will join SpiceJet as operators of the MAX in India. Akasa Air recently placed an order for 72 Boeing 737 MAX jets at the recent Dubai Airshow 2021.The new Indian budget airline plans to start operations in 2022.

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