The Brazilian airline GOL Linhas Aereas yesterday resumed its commercial services using the Boeing 737 MAX. It became the first carrier to operate the troubled narrowbody again since it was grounded in March 2019. But where did it fly?
Domestic flights for the MAX
GOL is currently only operating domestic flights in Brazil. It doesn’t expect to fly internationally until March 2021. So, for now, every airplane of the airline is operating within Brazilian borders.
Yesterday, when GOL operated the first MAX flight in over 20 months worldwide, it flew from Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport to the city of Porto Alegre. The aircraft, registration PR-XMB, is two years old.
The flight departed from Sao Paulo at 08:41, local time. Since then, the aircraft has flown ten more flights. All these flights have involved Sao Paulo in some way as GOL has connected this city with Porto Alegre, Florianopolis, Belo Horizonte, and Brasilia.
Of the remaining five GOL Boeing 737 MAX, only two more have operated commercial flights, according to FlightRadar24.com. These are PR-XMA and PR-XMC. The first has only flown on a round flight between Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre. Meanwhile, PR-XMC has made 11 commercial flights, connecting Sao Paulo with Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, and Florianopolis.
The MAX returned at the perfect moment
GOL is facing its peak season in Brazil. With summer ahead, the Brazilian airline couldn’t have received its Boeing 737 MAX fleet at a better time. Now, it can deploy this extra capacity on a plane that has greater fuel efficiency than the Boeing 737 NG.
Additionally, GOL is trying to increase its number of departures compared to last year. According to FlightRadar24.com, Azul has been the clear winner in Brazil over the past couple of months. It has operated 77% of the number of departures it had between October and November of 2019. Meanwhile, GOL operated at 53.2% and LATAM at 48.3%.
Moreover, GOL expects to receive new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft before the year ends. As journalists in Seattle reported, there are at least two MAX ready to be delivered to the Brazilian carrier.
Reg: PR-XMV pic.twitter.com/7TJQaljdSQ
— Woodys Aeroimages (@AeroimagesChris) December 6, 2020
How will the airline respond to unwary customers?
Many airlines worldwide are already saying that customers won’t be forced to fly on a MAX if they don’t want to. They are offering ticket changes and are informing passengers of the type of aircraft they will be flying.
But GOL is not doing that. We checked GOL’s website, and there is no information regarding the MAX and what customers can do about it if they don’t want to be on a flight operated by the type. Additionally, we contacted GOL for comment. At the time of publication, we haven’t received an answer.
But the airline is trying to assure the flying public that the MAX is safe. Celso Ferrer, VP of Operations at GOL, said,
“Our first priority is always the safety of our customers. Over the past 20 months, we have watched the most comprehensive safety review in the history of commercial aviation unfold, bringing together regulatory agencies and airlines from around the world to monitor and contribute to the upgrades in aircraft systems and pilot training. Consequently (…), we are fully confident in the MAX’s return to service.”
Additionally, GOL conducted training for 140 of its pilots, working alongside Boeing, the FAA, and ANAC.
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