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Boeing 737 Max 8 grounding is curtailing Asia’s ‘flight.’ Here’s why

PW Bureau

In Asia, where air passenger traffic is growing at the fastest rate, the grounding of the Boeing plane, alongwith rising fuel costs, have pushed up the costs incurred by airlines

New Delhi: Even as airlines have managed to avoid major disruptions in flight services in the aftermath of the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max 8 planes, analysts believe that the idling of the aircraft will crimp growth plans of airlines in the near future. Asian airlines are already cutting routes, revamping their schedules and leasing extra aircraft to fill the gaps left by the grounding of the plane which was a fuel-efficient update of Boeing’s 737.

In Asia, where air passenger traffic is growing at the fastest rate, the grounding of the Boeing plane, alongwith rising fuel costs, have pushed up the costs incurred by airlines and put a strain on their profits.

How are airlines minimising the impact?

Indonesian carrier Lion Air, whose Boeing 737 Max 8 plane plunged into the sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta killing all 189 people onboard, said in a statement that it was trying to minimise the impact from the grounding of Boeing 737 Max 8 planes. “Lion Air continues to serve routes that have been operated by Boeing 737 MAX 8 by replacing them using other Lion Air fleets,” spokesman Danang Mandala Prihantoro said.

Closer home, SpiceJet is looking to lease 22 Boeing 737-800NG aircraft, to make up for the shortfall. The carrier also has plans to deploy five Bombardier Q400 aircraft.

“The new inductions will not just bring down flight cancellations to nil but also help in SpiceJet's aggressive international and domestic expansion plans,” chairman and managing director Ajay Singh said.

Why are airlines without Max8s struggling as well?

Budget carrier Scoot in Singapore said in a statement that it would suspend services between Singapore and four cities, with the first suspension starting from June. The routes were serviced by the Airbus A320. The airline does not have Boeing 737 Max 8 planes.

A statement released by the airline said that the cuts were “due to a combination of weak demand and a shortage of aircraft resources.” “The aircraft shortage is arising as SilkAir, due to the grounding of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet, will no longer transfer its Boeing 737-800NG aircraft to Scoot in the financial year 2019/2020,” it said.