India bans B737 Max fleet ; SpiceJet cancels 14 flights

India bans B737 Max fleet ; SpiceJet cancels 14 flights

Agency News

New Delhi, Mar 13 : The Government on Wednesday banned the operations of Boeing 737 Max fleet from/to Indian airspace after 4pm, the Civil Aviation Ministry said.

In a clarification to the DGCA order on Tuesday night, the Civil Aviation Ministry tweeted that no B737 Max aircraft will be allowed to enter or transit Indian airspace effective 1600 hrs.

“The time line is to cater to situations where aircraft can be positioned at maintenance facilities & international flights can reach their destinations,” it added. Following the order, SpiceJet announced cancellation of its 14 flights.

In a statement, the airline said, “Consequent to the regulatory directive on the Boeing 737 MAX, SpiceJet has already initiated grounding of its MAX fleet. “In order to cause least inconvenience to its passengers and also bring these aircraft to its maintenance base, we expect to complete this exercise on or before 4 pm today.”

The airline said safety and security of the passengers, crew and operations are of utmost importance to it and they are closely working with the regulator and manufacturer to resolve the matter.

Currently, the SpiceJet has 12 jets of this model while Jet Airways has five B737 Max aircraft. Jet Airways’ Max planes are already grounded due to non-payment of lease rentals.

On Tuesday late night development, the DGCA had decided to ground all the Boeing 737-MAX fleet immediately, saying the jets would be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations.

Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said in a tweet, "Directed Secy to hold an emergency meeting with all Airlines to prepare a contingency plan to avoid inconvenience to passengers. While passenger safety is a zero tolerance issue, efforts are already on to minimise the impact on passenger movement as their convenience is important."

Now, India, the Europian Union, the United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Singapore, China, France, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia are among the countries who have temporarily suspended the 737 Max planes in the aftermath of the accident.

On Sunday, four Indians were among 157 passengers killed on board the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 commercial jet to Nairobi that crashed shortly after it took off from Addis Ababa. The airline has said 157 people were on board the flight, including 149 passengers and eight crew members. This was the second accident of this model aircraft in less than six months. (UNI)