Reinstatement of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft as well as booming passenger traffic has re-energised SpiceJet’s plan to start direct services to new destinations in Vietnam, Turkey and even Russia amongst others.
In a conversation with IANS, SpiceJet’s Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh emphasised the need for India-based carriers to start point-to-point medium to long haul services.
“The time has come for Indian carriers to expand globally. India should not depend on hubs in the Middle East or Southeast Asia.”
Besides, the company will keep on exploring the business of ‘wide-body’ charter services it operates to Canada and Europe.
“We will be exploring the possibility of getting into scheduled operations on long haul. We are also exploring whether we will be able to induct wide-bodied aircraft on a dry lease basis.”
On the airline’s part, Singh said that reinstated Boeing 737 MAX aircraft provides for greater range that will accelerate the company’s expansion plan.
“We are looking at destinations in Vietnam, Russia and Turkey to start new services. The aircraft (737 MAX) gives us an enhanced range to reach destinations on the edges of Asia.”
“Besides, the aircraft is fuel efficient, which is a game changer for us. As passenger numbers have risen, so has the jet fuel prices. This aircraft is the solution for rising jet fuel prices as it burns 20 per cent less fuel.”
Notably, the aircraft has been brought back after a gap of around two-and-a-half years.
The aircraft has been re-certified by the aviation regulator DGCA by using European standards.
SpiceJet is the only operator of the 737 MAX in the country.
At present, the airline has 13 of these planes in its fleet.
It had earlier signed a $22 billion deal with Boeing for up to 205 aircraft in 2017.
Consequently, the company plans to completely replace the older 737 NGs with MAX in the coming months.
It plans to induct 50 Maxs in 2022 and 2023.
The airline will be deploying these aircraft on both domestic as well as international routes.
The 737 MAX can fly non-stop to Singapore, Doha, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Kuala Lumpur, Tehran, Salalah, Kunming (China), Krabi, Moscow, Istanbul among other international destinations from various international airports in India.
Additionally, with one-stop, the aircraft can easily fly up to Finland, Norway, Morocco, London and Amsterdam.
The MAX 8 can fly up to 3,500 nautical miles which is approximately 19 per cent more than 737-800 enabling the airline to fly to newer destinations.
In addition, it uses up to 20 per cent less fuel than older 737s.
(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)