Flydubai to resume 737 Max operations on April 8

The aircraft’s first flight will be from Dubai to Sialkot in Pakistan

FILE PHOTO: A Boeing 737 MAX aircraft bearing the logo of flydubai is parked at a Boeing production facility in Renton, Washington, U.S. March 11, 2019. REUTERS/David Ryder/File Photo

Flydubai will resume Boeing 737 Max passenger flights on April 8, after the UAE lifted a 23-month safety ban on the jet in February, the airline said on Sunday.

The airline has complied with the UAE’s aviation regulator's safety requirements to ensure a safe return to service, the company said yesterday.

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

The airline is one of the world’s biggest customers of the industry workhorse.

The UAE joins Canada, the US, Brazil and Europe in approving the plane’s return to commercial service.

The jet was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two crashes in five months that killed 346 people.

Flydubai’s first 737 Max flight will be to Sialkot in Punjab, Pakistan, on April 8.

The airline will also operate the jets on a number of routes in the coming weeks, said chief commercial officer Hamad Obaidalla.

Flydubai has a fleet of 14 Boeing 737 Max aircraft. Four of its Max 8 variants and one of the larger Max 9s have received regulatory approval to rejoin its fleet.

The remaining jets are scheduled to resume passenger flights in the coming months, the airline said.

Passengers will be notified in advance if their flight involves a 737 Max jet, flydubai said.

The General Civil Aviation Authority, the UAE’s aviation regulator, approved each jet's return to service after ensuring compliance with a set of safety rules.

Flydubai said it “met and exceeded” the stringent requirements set out by the US Federal Aviation Administration, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the GCAA.

These include software enhancements, a wire separation modification, additional pilot training and thorough aircraft reactivation activities.

On March 29, Boeing won a new order for 100 Max jets from Texas-based Southwest Airlines, its biggest sale since the US lifted the ban on the aircraft in November 2020.

A day later, the US manufacturer also struck a deal with Alaska Airlines for an additional 23 Max 9 jets.

On March 12, Miami-based private investment firm 777 Partners agreed to add 24 Max 8 planes to its portfolio.

The string of deals underscores growing confidence in the jet after it was grounded for about two years.

Boeing has been trying to rebuild confidence and trust with its passengers and airline customers after the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

The latest orders will provide a vital cash injection after the Chicago-based plane maker ended 2020 with a record annual loss of $11.9bn.