SpiceJet hopes its Boeing 737 Max aircrafts can start flying from June

SpiceJet is hoping its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft can start flying by June, says Ajay Singh, chief managing director of the airline.

“We have grown 50 per cent this year,” he told reporters here. “This was possible because we took some aircraft from the erstwhile Jet Airways. We have a large number, 42, of Max aircraft on the ground, waiting to fly."

Boeing 737 MAX planes were globally grounded in March 2019, after two of these crashed (elsewhere in the glo­be) within five months, raising safety concerns. Spice­Jet has ordered 225 of the ­Boe­ing 737 MAX, for $22 billion.

“We hope they (MAX aircrafts) can come back and that will fuel our growth for this year. We are expecting the approvals to be in place by the end of May or in June," he added. The company continues to talk with Boeing's major rival, Airbus, and the latter is making offers, he said.

Asked about expansion plans, he said he could speak on these once the Boeing planes are back. These would be, he noted, much less costly to operate.

He was speaking in the sidelines of an event regarding Tamil movie Soorarai Pottru (Hail the Brave), a movie inspired from the life of G R Gopinath, founder of low-cost Air Deccan. SpiceJet is airline partner for the film, which has significant content related to the low-cost airline industry.

On the coronavirus impact, he said they'd temporarily suspended operations to Hong Kong. However, it was not such a big issue as yet for Indian airlines.  "But, there is a very big impact around the world. It has a cascading effect. Lots of fliers are not flying and it is going to have an impact on aircraft and airlines -- it is going to be much worse than we imagine," he added.

Oil prices were showing a downward trend, a positive sign in terms of cost for airlines, he added. Also, that aviation had a bright future, as only 3 per cent of India flies today and that is bound to increase as the economy gro­ws. "It is a volatile industry. It depends on many external factors, such as the price of fuel, cost of airports, etc. There will always be ups and downs but the future is bright," he said.  

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