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SpiceJet Sets October Date For Boeing 737 MAX Return

Indian skies will soon see some more Boeing 737 MAX action as LCC SpiceJet prepares to bring back its MAX aircraft from October 5th. The airline is the only MAX operator in the country as of now and is currently training its pilots ahead of flight resumption. India’s aviation regulator, the DGCA, had lifted the ban on the MAX in the last week of August. This allowed Indian and foreign carriers to operate their MAX aircraft in the country after proper recertification.

SpiceJet MAX
SpiceJet is training its MAX pilots to fly the airplane again from October 5th. Photo: Boeing

SpiceJet dusts off the MAX

The carrier is preparing to fly its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft again after two and a half years following the type’s grounding by Indian authorities in March 2019. Around 20 SpiceJet pilots are currently undergoing training in preparation to fly the MAX again. As reported by the Economic Times, an official of the airline stated,

“The first batch of 20 SpiceJet pilots are doing their training now and will complete it by 30 September 2021. The training was held at the SpiceJet Training Academy in Gurgaon and at the Boeing Simulator facility in Noida in Uttar Pradesh.”

SpiceJet MAX
The LCC will fly the MAX after two and a half years since the type’s grounding in India in March 2019. Photo: Boeing

According to the airline executive, the pilots have gone through a “requalification syllabus,” similar to what other MAX pilots around the world have done. When the plane was grounded in 2019, SpiceJet had around 350 pilots trained to fly the MAX. More pilots will continue to be trained in the coming few weeks as the first batch of 20 pilots is expected to complete their training at the end of this month.

How did the grounding affect SpiceJet?

When India banned MAX operations on March 13th, 2019, SpiceJet had to immediately ground all 13 MAXs in its fleet. With an average age of just under three years, the carrier’s MAX aircraft had accumulated a little over 6,300 hours cumulatively until the ban.

SpiceJet is one of the largest MAX customers with 100+ aircraft on order and clearly plans to rely on the type for its future expansion and operations. Ever since the grounding, the LCC has asked Boeing for compensation in millions. While the exact nature of compensation is not disclosed, Boeing is unlikely to pay the full amount and could look to make adjustments in future orders.

SpiceJet MAX
SpiceJet has sought compensation from Boeing and also received waivers from lessors following the grounding of its MAXs. Photo: VishuN via Wikimedia Commons

According to a July report by the Economic Times, an unidentified SpiceJet official stated,

“While SpiceJet has claimed loss of business opportunity due to grounding of MAX as one of the main reasons for a higher claim, Boeing has categorized payment of parking charges as well as lease rentals for 13 grounded planes as compensation.”

According to reports, the carrier has also received a waiver of lease rentals of about $40 million for four of its MAXs. It is negotiating a waiver of another $90 million for the remaining nine.

India was among the last major countries to recertify the MAX. As more and more carriers feel confident about the type, the decision is also significant for SpiceJet that has pinned its hope on future fleet expansion using the MAX aircraft.

What do you feel about the MAX returning to Indian skies? Are you looking forward to flying the type again? Do share your comments.

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