Middle eastern budget airline flydubai with resume passenger flights of the Boeing 737MAX aircraft starting April 8, some 25 months after it was grounded by regulators following two fatal crashes of the aircraft type in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
Aviation regulators in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) cleared the plane to fly again last month but flydubai delayed returning the 737MAX to service in order to comply with all of the safety requirements outlined in a safety decision from the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
The first flight operated by a 737MAX will be from Dubai International Airport (DXB) to Sialkot International Airport (SKT) in Pakistan on April 8. In a statement, flydubai said the aircraft could be used on any of the airline’s existing routes and that the MAX could be used to operate flights at short notice.
Where possible, passengers will be notified that they are flying on a MAX but changing flights to avoid flying on the aircraft will be subject to normal ticket rules which could include change or cancellation fees. Last week, United Airlines said it too would end its 737MAX change waiver.
flydubai had only taken delivery of 14 MAX aircraft before they were grounded, although for the first few weeks only four MAX-8 variants and one MAX-9 variant will be in service. The remaining nine aircraft are awaiting regulatory approval and are expected to resume flying in the coming months.
The government-owned airline is set to be the biggest operator of 737MAX jets in the Middle East with a total of 237 aircraft still on order with Boeing. In 2017, flydubai closed an order for 175 of the planes at a list value of $27 billion. The deal also included options for 50 more MAX jets which are not included in the current order total.
But by far the largest operator of the MAX will be Southwest Airlines which recently inked a deal with Boeing for 100 more 737 MAX-7 jets. Between 2011 and 2019, Southwest had already ordered 281 MAX aircraft of which 36 have so far been delivered.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.