SpiceJet on Tuesday said that it plans to induct 50 Boeing 737 MAX planes in its fleet by December 2023. Two SpiceJet's MAX planes out of the total 13 in its fleet have started operating commercial flights since Sunday, the company's CMD Ajay Sing said in a press conference, rpeorted news agency PTI.
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 $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 would 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 addition to the fleet," he said.
He also said there is absolutely no legal issue that is hampering the hive off of the 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.
Meanwhile, billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s Akasa has ordered 72 B737 MAX which it will start getting in time for the planned launch in the summer of 2022.
Last year, Boeing finalised software and hardware modifications to ensure safety on the Max. These changes were vetted and approved by foreign aviation regulators, including those of country of manufacture USA, EU, UAE, Singapore and UAE. India was among the last to approve the changes and allow modified Max to fly again, with China the only major country yet to clear it.
With inputs from PTI
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