The discussions regarding the resumption of Boeing MAX aircraft in India are currently on hold as SpiceJet is yet to restart talks with the regulator on the same, government officials told CNBC-TV18.
SpiceJet, the sole operator of MAX in India, is currently yet to re-initiate talks with the civil aviation regulator DGCA on MAX resumption and several layers of processes are pending such as training of pilots, getting the aircraft and simulator ready, officials said.
Once some of these tasks are completed by the low-cost carrier, then the matter of MAX returning back to service is expected to gather momentum, officials said.
One of the reasons for the delay in discussions over the resumption of MAX in India could be the under-utilisation of the existing capacity of the Indian aviation market, one of the officials said.
Currently, the government has permitted airlines to operate 50 percent capacity in the domestic aviation market. However, even then the capacity utilisation is weak due to dampened passenger sentiment amidst the covid pandemic.
The Boeing MAX aircraft was grounded across the globe in March 2019 following two fatal accidents involving the aircraft type.
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SpiceJet, the second-largest airline in India with nearly 13 percent market share, had 13 MAX aircraft in its fleet when the ban was imposed. The total order book of SpiceJet for MAX extends up to 205 airplanes with firm orders of 155 aircraft.
CNBC-TV18 sent a query to the airline about the latest status of MAX resumption and asked about what is the airline doing to bring MAX back to service. "No comments," responded the airline's spokesperson.
While the MAX aircraft are not allowed to operate in India, DGCA passed an order in April 2021 allowing foreign-registered Boeing 737 Max aircraft to overfly India after taking the agency's permission.
Foreign lessors are allowed to fly their grounded 737 Max aircraft out of India after taking the regulator's permission. The ban on MAX aircraft has already been removed by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Nov 2020 and by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in January 2021.
"We have every confidence that the aircraft is safe, which is the precondition for giving our approval. But we will continue to monitor 737 MAX operations closely as the aircraft resumes service. In parallel, and at our insistence, Boeing has also committed to work to enhance the aircraft still further in the medium term, in order to reach an even higher level of safety," EASA executive director Patrick Ky had said in January 2021.
(Edited by : Jomy Jos Pullokaran)