India to ground Boeing 737 Max airplanes
March 13, 2019 | 1:31 PM
by Times News Service
Image Courtesy - Boeing

Muscat: India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation has said that it will ground the operations of all of the country’s Boeing 737 MAX airplanes.

The news comes in the wake of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 suffering a fatal crash on Sunday, 10 March, just six minutes after it took from Addis Ababa at 8:38 am. All 157 people on board – 149 passengers and eight crew – lost their lives in that accident.

A statement from the Ministry of Civil Aviation said, “B 737 MAX operations will stop from/to all Indian airports. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has taken the decision to ground the Boeing 737 MAX planes immediately. These planes will be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations.

The ministry further added, “As always, passenger safety remains our top priority. We continue to consult closely with regulators around the world, airlines, and aircraft manufacturers to ensure passenger safety.”

Suresh Prabhu, India’s Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, also said he had “directed officials of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to undertake a safety assessment of Boeing 737-MAX being flown by domestic carriers. Safety of the passengers is our utmost concern. Directed Secretary and DGCA to take appropriate action immediately.

He had also “directed the Secretary to hold an emergency meeting with all Airlines to prepare a contingency plan to avoid inconvenience to passengers. While passenger safety is a zero tolerance issue, efforts are already on to minimise the impact on passenger movement as their convenience is important.”

India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation also put out a statement corroborating what Prabhu had said.

Moreover, Indian commercial airliner Spice Jet has also decided to cancel 14 flights scheduled to take off on Wednesday. Of the 76 planes in Spice Jet’s fleet, 64 are currently in operation.

“Spice Jet has suspended Boeing 737 MAX operations following DGCA's decision to ground the aircraft. Safety and security of our passengers, crew and operations are of utmost importance to us,” said Tushar Srivastava, Head of Communications at Spice Jet. “We will be working with the regulator and the manufacturer to attain normalcy in our operations. We are confident of accommodating the vast majority of our passengers and minimise inconvenience.

He added, “Consequent to the regulatory directive on the Boeing 737 MAX, Spice Jet has already initiated grounding of its Max fleet. In order to cause least inconvenience to its passengers and also bring these aircraft to its maintenance base we expect to complete this exercise on or before 4 pm today. Spice Jet has presently announced cancellation of 14 flights for today and will be operating additional flights from tomorrow.

Spice Jet have also offered a full refund to those passengers who do not wish to fly to their destinations on alternate aircraft that were being offered to those who were preparing to travel.

Of the 76 planes in our fleet, 64 aircraft are in operations and we are confident of minimising the inconvenience.” to our passengers and attain normalcy in our operations.

“While a majority of passengers affected as a result of these cancellations have been accommodated by SpiceJet on alternate flights, the rest have been offered a full-refund,” he added. “Safety and security of our passengers, crew and operations are of utmost importance to us and we are closely working with the regulator and manufacturer to resolve the matter. We are actively engaged with both Boeing and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and will continue to put safety first, as always. We have already implemented all additional precautionary measures as directed by the DGCA yesterday.”

India is the latest country to ground the Boeing 737 MAX, following the decisions by several other nations to do so, including China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the UK, Australia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

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