SpiceJet has officially resumed passengers operations with the Boeing 737 MAX after a 32-month grounding. VT-MXH took to the skies on Friday for a test flight over Delhi before passenger services began on Saturday morning. Let’s find out more.
Thirty months after the 737 MAX was first grounded and three months after DGCA approval, SpiceJet has resumed passenger operations with the 737 MAX. The carrier’s first MAX 8, VT-MXH, undertook a one-hour test flight on Friday from Delhi to Jaipur, overflying the city before landing back.
On Saturday, the MAX was deployed on its first commercial flight. Flight SG9922 departed Delhi Airport at 13:59 local time, delayed 90 minutes, for the short flight to Varanasi. The aircraft touched down safely at 15:00. The jet is now scheduled to fly the return service at 18:00 local time.
Notably, SpiceJet has made no official announcement of the return of the MAX on its social media or website. This means passengers on the flight may not have known what plane they were flying before reaching the airport.
This is a different approach to the one taken by carriers globally, which clearly informed passengers of the MAX and even gave options to switch flights. However, SpiceJet is yet to do anything similar.
The return of the 737 MAX comes less than 72 hours after SpiceJet and Boeing reached a settlement over outstanding losses due to the grounding of the MAX. After months of negotiations, both sides came to an undisclosed agreement, clearing the way for the aircraft to return to service.
SpiceJet has clearly wasted no time in bringing back the aircraft. VT-MXH was being readied to take off from Delhi within a day of the settlement, an exciting day for the airline and Boeing alike. The coming weeks will see more of the 13 MAX 8s be reactivated and carrying passengers.
For SpiceJet, the resumption of 737 MAX operations allows for a much-needed boost in capacity. After losing aircraft over the last year and struggling after the Spring wave of COVID-19, the airline has lost market share to competitors. To claw this back, the airline needs more capacity that is cost-effective.
Big for Boeing
The news is a huge step for Boeing too. While there has been talk of the MAX coming back for months now, progress has been painfully slow. Now, the planemaker can officially say that the MAX has been certified in all but one major global market (China).
Boeing also had a big week at the Dubai Air Show. It bagged its second MAX operator in India last week, with startup Akasa Air purchasing 72 MAX 8s for its operations. For now, the return of the 737 MAX is a significant step for SpiceJet and Boeing as the post-pandemic market takes shape.
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