Flydubai to resume 737 Max service; first flight to Pakistan

Dubai - The Boeing 737 Max planes are scheduled to begin service on April 8.

By Muzaffar Rizvi

Published: Sun 4 Apr 2021, 1:31 PM

Last updated: Sun 4 Apr 2021, 6:17 PM

Flydubai on Sunday announced that its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will return to passenger service from April 8 following the airline’s compliance with all of the requirements outlined in the safety decision issued by the General Civil Aviation Authority.

In a statement, the Dubai-based airline said the first flight to be operated by one of the carrier's Max aircraft will be departed Dubai International to Sialkot International Airport on April 8. Passengers will be notified in advance of travel if their itinerary now includes a flight that is scheduled to be operated by a Max, it said.

“The Max is integral to flydubai’s fleet and we are confident in the aircraft and its capabilities,” Ghaith Al Ghaith, chief executive at flydubai, said.

Back on aviation radars

Flydubai has a fleet of 14 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, and four of its Max 8s and one of its Max 9s have now received regulatory approval to rejoin its fleet. The remaining nine Max aircraft will return to passenger service over the coming months, the statement said.

The airline has a fleet of 50 aircraft and it carried more than 75 million passengers since it began operations in 2009.

“I would like to commend the GCAA for their tireless pursuit of air safety and the diligent work undertaken by the flydubai team to ensure the safe return of the MAX aircraft to passenger service,” Al Ghaith said.

20-month aircraft review

Flydubai has created a network of more than 70 destinations in 46 countries across Africa, Central Asia, the Caucasus, Central and South-East Europe, the GCC and the Middle East, and the Indian Subcontinent. It opened more than 40 new routes that did not previously have direct air links to Dubai or were not served by a UAE national carrier from Dubai.

“We are pleased to see the Max aircraft rejoin our fleet. While the aircraft’s first flight will be from Dubai to Sialkot, they will operate to a number of flydubai’s destinations over the coming weeks,” Hamad Obaidalla, chief commercial officer at flydubai, said.

“We look forward to reintroducing our Max product which includes a spacious lie flat bed in Business Class and an ergonomically designed seat in Economy Class and improved in-flight entertainment with full HD touchscreens,” he said.

The return to service of the airline’s fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft follows an exhaustive 20-month review which has involved the manufacturer, regulators, engineers, scientists, researchers, mechanics and pilots whose sole objective has been to safely return the aircraft to service.

Re-establish route network

Saj Ahmad, an analyst at London's StrategicAero Research, said its been a long time coming but the return of the 737 MAX family to flydubai’s operations could not have come soon enough.

“With all of the technical updates implemented, alongside maintenance and enhanced pilot training, flydubai will re-introduce five of its 14 737 MAX airplanes as it looks not only to re-establish its network on the back of demand across the region that had been hit due to Covid-19, but also as a way to harness the fuel and performance efficiency of the airplane to allow it to fly further, save money, lower costs and offer its award-winning products to its customers,” Ahmad told Khaleej Times on Sunday.

As one of the biggest 737 MAX customers in the world and prior to the pandemic, the aviation expert said flydubai was arguably the fastest growing airline in the world. The onset of mass vaccination across the UAE and GCC region, as well as other markets will ensure that demand will come back and flydubai can once again offer travellers excellent value for money in what remains a price-competitive landscape.

“Equally, the service entry of the 737 MAX will also highlight the integrity and prowess of the GCAA who have worked tirelessly to ensure the fleet is ready to resume service after its lengthy grounding – all done to ensure passenger safety,” he said.

Flydubai MAX met GCAA safety criteria

The GCAA has granted the approval for each MAX aircraft to return to service following the fulfillment of the following requirements:

• Software enhancements and additional protections to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System

• Other software updates not related to the flight control system

• A wire separation modification

• A thorough inspection to ensure the aircraft are free of debris

• Pilot training has been enhanced and includes both classroom and full motion simulator training

• Conduct operational readiness flights


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