Hours after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) ordered a ban on Boeing 737 MAX jets, Ministry of Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola confirmed that all flights of Boeing 737 MAX were grounded before the deadline of 4 pm today. The MoCA secretary further added, “A discussion with airlines was undertaken to see how they plan to reduce inconvenience to the passengers.”
In India, SpiceJet and Jet Airways operate the aircraft. While Jet Airways’ all five 737 MAXs are grounded due to the airline’s financial woes, low-cost carrier SpiceJet cancelled 14 of its flights today. This has resulted in an additional burden on India’s air traffic that is already stretched due to capacity constraints faced by two large players IndiGo and Jet Airways.
“Today SpiceJet has cancelled 14 flights, it operates 500 plus flights daily and 14 were cancelled. They’ve been able to accommodate all passengers on their own. Tomorrow is going to be a real challenging day, as today grounding came into effect in the second half of the day,” said Kharola.
According to Kharola, SpiceJet has increased the utilisation of existing aircraft. “About 30-35 flights will get affected tomorrow. They’ve assured that no airport that has SpiceJet service will go unserviced. They’ll be setting up a special cell to monitor the passengers’ complaints, ” he said.
The decision to ground the aircraft came days after a 737 Max aircraft was involved in a second fatal accident in less than five months. All 157 passengers, including four Indians, were killed after an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed en route to Kenya. In October last year, an aircraft operated by Lion Air crashed killing over 180 people in Indonesia.
Following the crashes that resulted in the death of 346 people, multiple airlines across the globe announced the suspension of flight operations of Boeing’s flagship narrowbody aircraft.