flydubai became one of the latest airlines to resume flights with the 737 MAX last week. The Dubai-based low-cost carrier has an incredible 237 MAXs currently on order, with 14 already in the fleet. Let’s find out more about flydubai’s bold plans with the aircraft.
flydubai is the second-largest customer for the 737 MAX in the world, behind only Southwest and tied with the Lion Air Group. The airline first placed its bets on the MAX in 2013, ordering 75 new aircraft to grow its existing all-737-800 fleet. This order was later topped up by a substantial 175 aircraft in 2017, cementing the long-term future of the MAX in the flydubai fleet.
The Dubai-based carrier took delivery of its 737 MAX in August 2017 and quickly began using the aircraft on key routes, including Europe. The airline consistently took on more MAX 8s and started taking the larger MAX 9s in late 2018. By January 2019, the airline had 14 MAXs and the jets accounted for nearly 30% of the fleet.
However, this reliance meant that the grounding on the 737 MAX in March 2019 had a huge impact on the airline, forcing it to lease older 737s and cut back some routes. With 14 jets now grounded, flydubai was suffering from capacity issues seen with airlines around the world.
Despite the fallout of the 737 MAX crisis on flydubai, the airline remained committed to the fleet. Considering the airline had always been an all-737 carrier, it was likely not much of a choice given the circumstances. Moreover, flydubai already spent millions in buying aircraft, setting up maintenance facilities, and more.
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in flydubai grounding nearly all flights from late March to June last year. This took some pressure off the MAX in the short term but also meant the airline couldn’t benefit from the aircraft’s better efficiency when it resumed flights. However, the end of last year brought some light at the end of the tunnel.
The FAA officially recertified the 737 MAX in November last year, ending the 18-month-long grounding order. The UAE’s GCAA recertified the jet in February, allowing flydubai to pull out its aircraft from deep storage and start the reactivation process. On April 8th, flydubai officially flew its first 737 MAX passenger flight, over two years after the grounding began.
Despite some recent issues with MAX (which flydubai is reportedly unaffected by), flydubai sees a long future for the 737 MAX in its fleet. The airline still has 237 aircraft on order, many of which have been produced and are waiting for delivery in Seattle. The coming months will likely see deliveries resume once again and flydubai take on more of these efficient MAX 8s and 9s.
The timing for the return of the MAX works well for flydubai as well. The airline has optimistic plans for 2021, including a strong summer season in Europe. With aviation recovering, flydubai plans to use the 737 MAX for many years to come.
What do you think about flydubai’s 737 MAX plans? Let us know in the comments!