Budget carrier flydubai has decided to take more aircraft on leasing after US planemaker Boeing announced that it didn't expect to win the regulatory approval of its grounded 737 MAX aircraft until the middle of 2020.
Flydubai's 11 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft remain grounded since March 2019 following the crash of two jets, resulting in the deaths of 346 passengers. The Dubai carrier has placed an order for 250 MAX jets, the second largest order after the US airline Southwest.
"We are looking at short to medium-term leasing options to add more capacity for the coming few months," a flydubai spokesperson said on Wednesday.
Boeing has informed airlines and suppliers of the new estimate about the aircraft. It said that returning the MAX safely to service is its number one priority, and that it is confident that it will happen. "We acknowledge and regret the continued difficulties that the grounding of the 737 MAX has presented to our customers, our regulators, our suppliers, and the flying public."
Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at London-based StrategicAero Research, said that Boeing's efforts to get the 737 MAX back into service is now seriously hurting is loyal customer base.
"Flydubai cannot afford another busy summer period without the capacity to meet demand and drive revenue. While it's not out of the realm of possibilities that flydubai could or would order Airbus A320neo jets, the reality is that Airbus is sold out for at least the next half decade and flydubai would still have to wait for new airplanes until at least 2026. So that's a total non-starter, especially when you consider that the MAX will be back in service later this year," Ahmad told Khaleej Times.
Currently, more than 300 MAX jets remain grounded across the globe, waiting for approval from the regulators' approval. For Boeing and its customer base, getting the MAX back into service before October 2020 will be absolutely paramount as this situation simply cannot continue due to the devastating effect on jobs and the wider supply chain already happening and likely to get worse as time goes on.
Flydubai has already leased four previous models of 737-800 jets from December 14 to January 25.
Ahmad said that while leasing in jets will add to the burning of additional capital, this will be offset by the growth in revenue to service passenger demand. Flydubai has already initiated lease deals for 2020 so they know how to approach the market and tap into additional fleet expansion on a temporary basis.
Boeing's 777X set for test-flight
US planemaker Boeing will carry out its first test flight of its delayed 777X aircraft either on Thursday or Friday.
Quoting sources, Reuters said that the flight could take place at Boeing's commercial base outside Seattle, if the weather permits.
The world's largest international carrier is also the launch customer of new aircraft. Dubai-based Emirates has 150 of the 350-400-seat model on order, of which eight were originally slated for delivery in 2020.
Emirates President Sir Tim Clark has already said that the carrier is unlikely to receive the new aircraft in 2020.
"By the end of 2020, we were to have eight of them. Now it doesn't look like we will have any," Clark said about the 777X at a conference in Dubai last year.
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