**Update 31/12/20 @ 11:10 UTC – Singapore Airlines have responded to the request for comment; details below.**
Singapore Airlines today removed one of its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from storage in Alice Springs, Australia. In SilkAir branding, the aircraft had been sent for storage in September 2019 after having been grounded in March 2019.
Having been grounded worldwide in 2019 following two fatal crashes, the Boeing 737 MAX spent much of 2019 and 2020 unable to fly. However, as we approach 2021, things have begun to change as the FAA ungrounded the aircraft, followed by several other countries. Yesterday, this saw American Airlines operate its first 737 MAX flight with passengers from Miami to New York’s La Guardia Airport. More operators are set to follow in the coming months.
Singapore Airlines returns a Boeing 737 MAX from storage
Singapore Airlines currently has six Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, all under its Silkair subsidiary. The entire fleet had been resting its wings in Alice Springs, Australia. However, today one took to the skies after over a year in storage.
As first spotted by The Straits Times, 9V-MBA took to the skies at 11:02 bound for Singapore. According to Planespotters.net, the aircraft is the oldest Boeing 737 MAX in the airline’s fleet, having been delivered in September 2017. This gives the aircraft an age of just over three years.
According to data from FlightRadar24.com, the aircraft arrived in Alice Springs on September 30th, 2019. The aircraft seemingly completed a short test flight on Monday. This morning it departed Alice Springs at 11:02. Having spent around five and a half hours in the air, the aircraft landed back into its Singapore home at 14:58.
Commenting, a Singapore Airlines spokesperson told Simple Flying,
“Singapore Airlines has received approval from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore to begin flying the six SilkAir Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that are parked in Alice Springs back to Singapore from the end of December 2020. We will continue to work with, and be guided by, our regulators on the Boeing 737 MAX operations.”
What can this tell us about the aircraft’s return to service?
The fact that Singapore Airlines has withdrawn a Boeing 737 MAX from storage could indicate that the airline is eying a return to service. However, The Straits Times notes that the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore has yet to recertify the aircraft so far.
According to aeroTELEGRAPH, the aircraft were sent to Alice Springs as the Singapore climate wasn’t suitable for long-term storage of the MAX. As such, it seemingly wouldn’t make sense to return the aircraft just to store it again for an extended period.
There are a handful of challenges remaining before Singapore Airlines can resume 737 MAX flights. Firstly, it will need to get approval from its aviation authority to resume flights. Most MAX flights resumed so far have been domestic, as many neighboring countries of those who have approved operations are yet to also give the go-ahead.
As every destination served by the 737 MAX from Singapore’s Changi Airport would be international, the airline would need to wait for neighboring countries to reauthorize Boeing 737 MAX flights before it could put the aircraft to use.
When do you think Singapore Airlines will resume Boeing 737 MAX flights? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!