SpiceJet Not Looking To Resume 737 MAX Operations Right Now

SpiceJet has reportedly put a hold on its plans to resume using the Boeing 737 MAX. The carrier has paused talks with regulator DGCA about recertifying the jet, delaying its return for the near future. As the sole operator of the MAX in India, SpiceJet’s decision to fly it will be key to any recertification.

Boeing SpiceJet 737 MAX 8
As demand remains low in the domestic and international markets, SpiceJet doesn’t seem keen to reactivate its MAX fleet. Photo: Boeing

Grounded

According to CNBC, SpiceJet has not restarted talks with aviation regulator DGCA about recertifying the 737 MAX in India. This means the entire process has largely stalled, leaving the resumption date of the MAX up in the air.

The recertification of the 737 MAX can only occur once SpiceJet completes certain key steps. This includes training pilots, preparing simulators, and actually ungrounding the planes for test flights. SpiceJet has done none of these steps currently, leaving the DGCA unable to approve the MAX once again.

SpiceJet 737 MAX 8
SpiceJet’s has a fleet of 13 grounded 737 MAXs, and hundreds more remain on order. Photo: Florian Klebl via Flickr

According to government officials, only once SpiceJet completes these processes can the recertification process continue. Moreover, the ungrounding will even “gather momentum” if the airline decides to unground its fleet. However, there seems to be little hurry in trying to bring the jets back into service for several reasons.

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Low

While it previously reported that SpiceJet wanted to see its MAXs back in the sky by April, the second wave has changed this decision. Domestic traffic plummeted by over 75% in late April and early May, hitting airlines hard. To help protect financially weak airlines, the government also lowered airline capacity to 50%, further limiting schedules.

SpiceJet, in particular, has been hit hard by the devastating second wave of COVID-19. The airline has decided to “defer” employee salaries for May retroactively due to a lack of funds. With revenues crashing again, the airline has been cutting costs and hoping to ride out the storm. The 737 MAX reactivation seems to be a part of these cuts.

SpiceJet 737
The second wave has decimated SpiceJet’s schedule and passenger traffic, resulting in a cash crunch. Photo: Getty Images

With less traffic domestically and nascent international flights, SpiceJet likely hasn’t found value in investing in the 737 MAX again. Pilot training, simulators, and reactivating planes will cost millions, which the airline simply does not have right now.

No new timeline

The DGCA has been cautious with the recertification of the 737 MAX as well. After initially barring it from even overflying Indian airspace in April, the regulator later allowed the MAX overflight right with prior permission. However, landing and taking off from India remains highly restricted, with only foreign-registered planes stuck in India being allowed to be flown back to their home countries.

Until SpiceJet decided to resume MAX operations, it’s unlikely that we will see the DGCA recertify the planes. The timeline for this is quite fluid and could range from later this year to possibly even early 2022. For now, don’t expect to be flying the 737 MAX in India anytime soon.

What do you think about SpiceJet’s decision not to fly the 737 MAX? Let us know in the comments!

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