Boeing has confirmed that it does not expect the grounded 737 MAX to return to service before “mid-2020”. In a statement released on January 21 this year, the company cautioned that this time line is an estimate, and entry into service will be finally determined by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other regulators across the world like Europe’s EASA and India’s DGCA. Since the FAA will lead regulators in un-grounding the MAX, US carriers such as American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines will be amongst the first in the world to re-start services with the aircraft. Executives at airlines have estimated they will need between one and two months if not more, to prepare their grounded aircraft, complete the needed pilot training and integrate the MAX into their network schedule.
Assuming all goes according to plan, estimates are that the 737 MAX will begin to enter revenue service only by September 2020 or later. Other aviation regulators including India’s DGCA have indicated they will independently look at the reentry of the Boeing 737 MAX into service, which will further add to the timeline. Indian low-fare carrier SpiceJet that uses the Boeing 737, the world’s best-selling narrow-body aircraft, as its fleet mainstay, will miss the MAX for peak summer travel season. The airline is expected to augment its fleet using short term wet-lease which will drive up costs for the already stressed airline.