The last few days have seen a number of airlines around the globe welcome new 737 MAX jets to their fleets, as global regulators continue to relax grounding orders on the embattled jet, and airlines meet all their regulatory requirements to bring the aircraft back to service.
Dubai-based low-cost carrier flydubai announced that its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will return to passenger service from 8 April 2021, after the airline successfully complied with all of the requirements outlined in the Safety Decision issued by its regulator, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), to ensure the safe return of the aircraft to service.
Flydubai has a fleet of 14 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, and four of its MAX 8s and one of its MAX 9s have now received regulatory approval to rejoin its fleet. The remaining nine MAX aircraft will return to passenger service over the coming months.
The first flight to be operated by one of the carrier’s MAX aircraft will be Dubai International (DXB) to Sialkot International Airport (SKT), with the flight currently scheduled to operate on 8 April.
The aircraft will operate to other existing flydubai destinations from this date onwards. Passengers will be notified in advance of travel if their itinerary now includes a flight that is scheduled to be operated by a MAX.
Commenting on the return of the MAX aircraft to passenger service, Ghaith Al Ghaith, chief executive at flydubai, said, “The MAX is integral to flydubai’s fleet and we are confident in the aircraft and its capabilities. I would like to commend the GCAA for their tireless pursuit of air safety and the diligent work undertaken by the flydubai team to ensure the safe return of the MAX aircraft to passenger service.”
Elsewhere in the world, Fiji’s national airline Fiji Airways confirmed the acceptance of return-to-service requirements of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft by its own regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji (CAAF).
CAAF’s acceptance and approval follows that of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) of Australia and the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAANZ), two of Fiji Airways’ key destinations.
Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways managing director and CEO, said, “We have followed and worked closely with CAAF, CASA, CAANZ and the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) over the past two years in relation to the safe return of the MAX aircraft. The past eight months have been spent planning for the aircraft’s eventual re-certification and reviewing all return-to-service requirements from our regulators. I am proud of our prior investment in mandatory training for our pilots in a Full Flight Simulator for the 737 MAX, over and above the minimum requirements when we initially introduced the aircraft into our fleet.
“Everyone at Fiji Airways, including our pilots and technical crew have complete confidence in the safety of the MAX, given the intense scrutiny, thousands of test flights and necessary upgrades made to the aircraft over numerous months. Safety and care for our customers and staff remain our highest and unrelenting priority.”
Viljoen confirmed that the Full Flight Simulator at the Fiji Airways Aviation Academy was already being used to bring its pilots and technical crew up to speed with all the new and additional requirements following the re-certification of the MAX aircraft.
He added, “We will continue to work with our regulators to bring the MAX aircraft into service, albeit for the limited number of freight and repatriation flights we currently operate.”
Fiji Airways will also make relevant information for customers about its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on its website in due course.
Meanwhile, Romanian low-cost carrier Blue Air also announced the entry of its new Boeing 737 MAX 8, registration YR-MXA, into operational service with the airline.
Last week, Blue Air celebrated the reception of the first Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in its fleet during an inaugural event that took place at Henri Coandă International Airport, upon the arrival of the new aircraft in the country.
This occasion marked a double premiere for Blue Air, its new plane is the first Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft to operate commercial flights in Romania and the first to join the fleet of a Romanian carrier.
Blue Air’s Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft entered operational service on 2 April, operating the first passenger flight on the route Bucharest Otopeni – Lisbon.
The aircraft will operate flights to the most attractive destinations of Blue Air – London Heathrow, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Lisbon, and Paris Charles de Gaulle.
Globally, over 18 airlines have already returned the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to service.
These include LOT Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, Air Canada, WestJet, American Airlines and GOL. Between the lifting of the MAX suspensions in various countries and 23 March 2021, the MAX fleet globally has operated 14,214 revenue flights over 31,179 flight hours.
Additional reporting by Airlinerwatch.