It is Going to be Difficult With All Boeing Aircraft Grounded Due to Crash of Ethiopian Airlines

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New Delhi: Civil Aviation Secretary P S Kharola said that all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft being operated by Indian airlines have been grounded and around 35 flights of SpiceJet would be cancelled consequently.

He said that it will be a “challenging” day as “out of 520 odd flights that SpiceJet flies every day, about 30-35 flights will have to be cancelled”. SpiceJet has been most affected by the grounding of 737 Max 8 aircraft as it has 12 of them in its fleet.

Jet Airways has not been affected as its five 737 Max 8 aircraft have already been grounded - even before the grounding decision of the government -- due to non-payment of dues to lessors.

As the Ethiopian Airlines’ 737 Max 8 crashed near Addis Ababa killing all 157 people onboard on Sunday, Indian aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Tuesday night announced that the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft would be “immediately” grounded.

 “Tomorrow is going to be a real challenging day because today the ban has come into effect only from the second half of the day... SpiceJet has assured us that they have taken up multiple plans. They have increased the utilisation of existing aircraft, so that the cancellations get limited,” Kharola said.

“As of now, all aircraft of B737 Max have been grounded. The last flight (aircraft) to be grounded was today around 2.30 pm. The deadline was 4 pm and before that all aircraft have been grounded,” he said.

On Wednesday morning, the DGCA issued a statement stating no Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft would be allowed to fly in Indian airspace from 4 pm.

“We had a discussion with airlines as to how they would plan to overcome the situation. The airlines have assured that the grounding of 12 aircraft would not significantly impact the passengers and they would draw up a very elaborate plan,” the secretary said.

“Today, SpiceJet has just cancelled 14 flights... They have been able to accommodate the passengers affected by cancellation of 14 flights within their own system,” he added.

Kharola emphasised that the SpiceJet has been told that cancellations of flights should happen on those sectors that have multiple flights. He added that SpiceJet has assured that if the airport has only its flights, it will not go “unserviced” due to aircraft ban.

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