TUI Completes First European 737 MAX Flight Since Grounding

TUI has completed the first European passenger flight of the Boeing 737 MAX since the type was ungrounded by EASA last month. The airline flew a three-year-old 737 MAX 8 from Brussels to Malaga this morning.

TUI, Boeing 737 MAX, Europe
TUI has operated the first Boeing 737 MAX passenger flight in European skies since the aircraft was ungrounded. Photo: TUI

While 737 MAX flights were quick to resume in North and South America after the FAA ungrounded the type, it has taken slightly longer for the aircraft to return to the skies on the other side of the pond. However, with EASA and the CAA having rescinded their grounding orders, the way has been cleared for European MAX operators to resume flights.

TUI Resumes MAX operations

Today, European holiday carrier TUI resumed 737 MAX flights, making it the first in Europe to do so. The airline group used its oldest aircraft for the flight registered as OO-MAX, operated by the group’s Belgian subsidiary, TUI Airlines Belgium.

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According to data from RadarBox.com, the aircraft was due to depart from Brussels (BRU) at 09:30CET. However, it was faced with a short 13-minute delay, getting airborne at 09:43. The aircraft flew for two hours and 31 minutes before landing in Malaga at 12:14, one minute ahead of schedule. During the flight, the aircraft cruised at a height of 39,000 feet, passing through Belgian, French, and Spanish airspace.

TUI, Boeing 737 MAX, Europe
The flight passed through Belgian, French, and Spanish airspace, cruising at 39,000 feet. Photo: RadarBox.com

OO-MAX took its first flight on January 4th, 2018, according to data from planespotters.net. The plane was delivered to the airline towards the end of January 2018, named Tenerife Alegria. Since the MAX was grounded, it has been in storage at Brussels Airport. However, preparing for the flight took a test flight over Belgium and Luxemburg on Monday. You can read the requirements to return the MAX to service in Europe in our previous reporting.

Which European airlines will be next?

It seems like Smartwings will be the next airline to resume Boeing 737 MAX flights. Earlier this month, Simple Flying reported that the Czech airline would resume MAX flights on February 25th with a flight from Prague to Palma de Mallorca. At the time, this was thought to be the first European MAX passenger flight, so it is possible but unlikely that another airline will resume flights in the meantime.

Following on from Smartwings’ return Norwegian Airlines is reportedly set to resume 737 MAX flights a few days later, on March 1st. The airline has planned flights from Oslo to Stockholm and Hamburg, with other destinations following soon after. It should be noted that the airline is not currently selling tickets for such flights.

Smartwings Boeing 737 MAX
Smartwings is expected to be the next airline to resume 737 MAX flights in Europe. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Icelandair is set to follow a week later, on March 8th. The airline has already recalled some 737 MAX aircraft from storage. We also know that Ryanair is keen to begin 737 MAX operations. However, the European LCC is still awaiting its first delivery.

Are you happy to see the Boeing 737 MAX back in European skies? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!

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