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…

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 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.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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American Airlines Sees More Opportunities In Asia Post-Crisis

International flying to and from Asia remains in the doldrums and lagging other regions, but American Airlines sees…

American Airlines Sees More Opportunities In Asia Post-Crisis

International flying to and from Asia remains in the doldrums and lagging other regions, but American Airlines sees big opportunities there once long-haul travel starts to rebound. In addition to its own flights, American cites partnerships with airlines based in Asia as reasons why they see potential in that part of the world.

American Airlines sees a lot of future opportunities in Asia once travel normalizes. Photo: Vincenzo Pace/Simple Flying

American Airlines admits Asia is a tough market right now

American’s own metal still heads into Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, Beijing Capital, Beijing Daxing, Tokyo Narita, and Tokyo Haneda. However, American Airlines Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja said in an exclusive webinar interview with Simple Flying that Asia was a tough market right now.

“We probably have a way to go yet,” Mr Raju said when asked about the region. But he highlighted the role of partners in Asia, including fellow oneworld members Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines.

“We’re very fortunate that we do have those partners there,” the CCO says. “We can we can figure out how things come together.”

In the second quarter of 2021, flying into Asia and the remainder of the Pacific region constituted only 7.5% of American’s available seat miles across its entire international network. Passenger loads (23.7%) also considerably lagged the average (52.9%) across American’s global international services that quarter.

American Airlines admits it is a tough game flying to Asia during the travel downturn. Photo: Vincenzo Pace/ Simple Flying

American Airlines highlights the value of airline partnerships in Asia

Vasu Raja highlights the new American Airlines flights into Tokyo Haneda as an example of opening up new markets in Japan and North Asia.

“We were all kind of eagerly anticipating the opening of Haneda and, unfortunately, that didn’t happen with nearly the level of fanfare that we all thought for very understandable reasons. 

“At some point in time, when people are able to come back to Japan, that will be an airport in which our partner (Japan Airlines) has a very massive presence in. With our new international jumping-off points in New York, and Seattle, that creates a lot of opportunities to serve Japan, the Asian marketplace we didn’t really have before.”

American Airlines says China partnership matters

The American Airlines executive also highlighted a partnership with China Southern, China’s biggest airline.

“We are really keen to go and rebuild our partnership with China Southern,” Mr Raja says, adding this partnership took the biggest beating throughout the travel downturn. He sees a lot of opportunities in the China Southern partnership.

“The Chinese marketplace, like many markets across the world, is going to boom at a pretty, pretty extraordinary rate.

“As we recover from the pandemic, those (pre-pandemic) growth rates will resume, certainly in the short-haul business in China. And so having a partner like that is a great blessing for us. And we look forward to developing that partnership.”

 Vasu Raja sees a lot of potential in American’s partnership with China Southern Airlines. Photo: Vincenzo Pace/Simple Flying

While Vasu Raja is upbeat about how Asia can fit into American’s overall strategy, he does acknowledge there is a way to go yet. Borders need to reopen, travel restrictions ease, and demand pick up.

‘The first really big critical step is understanding how the restrictions on demand get loosened up in Asia. And once we have a better read on that, it makes it easier for us to figure out how we go and bring back those partnerships and the connectivity they offer.”

Source : Simple Flying More   

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