New Delhi: SpiceJet plans to induct 50 ‘737 Max’ planes of Boeing in its fleet by December 2023, CMD of the low-cost airline, Ajay Singh, said on Tuesday.
Two SpiceJet’s Max planes — out of the total 13 in its fleet — have started operating commercial flights since Sunday, he said at a press conference here. All Max planes were grounded in India by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on March 13, 2019, three days after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max plane near Addis Ababa, which had left 157 people, including four Indians, dead.
After Boeing made necessary software rectifications, the DGCA had on August 26 this year lifted the ban on Max planes’ commercial flight operations. SpiceJet, the only operator of Max planes in the country, had signed a USD 22 billion deal (one billion is equal to 100 crores) with Boeing for 205 aircraft in 2017 and has 13 of these planes in its fleet at present.
“The first two have started flying already and the other 11 will start flying in the next 15-20 days,” Singh said. Apart from the aforementioned 13 Max planes, another four Max aircraft are lying in the Boeing facility for SpiceJet, he mentioned.
The delivery of these four new Max planes will begin on December 10, he stated. SpiceJet had on November 17 said it has entered into an agreement with the US-based aerospace company Boeing to settle outstanding claims related to the grounding of 737 Max aircraft and its return to service.
Singh said on Tuesday that Boeing has provided compensation in both cash and kind. “The idea is to completely replace our existing NG fleet (older version of 737 planes) in the coming months…The idea is to get 50 Max aircraft in 2022 and 2023. Out of the 50 Max planes, 15-20 will be replacement of NG aircraft and the remaining would be new additions to the fleet,” he said.
He also said there is absolutely no legal issue that is hampering the hive off of SpiceJet’s cargo business. “We expect that the hive off would be done by the end of this year and by January 2022, it would operate as a separate business,” he added.