Just a few days ago, SpiceJet surprised everybody by posting on its social media accounts that it is hiring pilots for Boeing B777-200ERs. At the time, nobody had a clue what was happening. However, now we have a answer to that question as SpiceJet itself has confirmed that it will be receiving 2 Boeing B777s as compensation from Boeing for B737MAX grounding.
Long-haul dream may finally come true
SpiceJet’s dream of operating long-haul flights may finally come true as the airline will be receiving 2 Boeing B777-200ERs (Extra Range) compensation from Boeing for B737MAX grounding. These would not be brand-new aircraft but would be two that were either undelivered or returned to Boeing over the last few years. While the Indian low cost carrier has discussed the possibility of going long-haul several times, it has yet to lease or buy its own planes.
So what will the airline do with these B777s? It has 2 possible plans for them: either to deploy it on scheduled passenger services with North America being the most likely destination or start cargo flights with these aircraft. Earlier this summer, the Delhi-based carrier secured flight rights to fly to the United States. But at that time, it did not have the aircraft to fly on long-haul routes. However, with 2 B777s incoming, SpiceJet could apply for slots at airports in the US.
However, due to the newly discovered Omicron variant of COVID-19, which is classified as a ‘Variant of Concern’ by the World Health Organization and which has led various countries to impose travel bans, SpiceJet may have to push back passenger services and instead focus on its key segment currently, which is cargo.
The situation is very fluid. Let us see how it pans out. If the pandemic situation keeps improving, which it was before Omicron, then it makes sense to deploy the B777s for scheduled passenger flights. If not, then cargo.
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May become 3rd Indian carrier to fly to North America
Until now, no Indian low cost carrier has gone long-haul, whether it be Indigo, SpiceJet or GoFirst. If the airline starts flights to North America, it will become the third airline to enter the highly-competitive India-North America market.
However, we should not get our hopes high as SpiceJet has announced plans to start flights to London in the past and cancelled them.
SpiceJet also has the chance to deploy these B777s in its cargo business, SpiceXpress. SpiceXpress was set to become separate from the parent airline and pursue its own cargo expansion, hoping to secure a larger share of the Indian market. And with these widebody aircraft, it would be great for the airline allowing it to compete with larger cargo airlines like Emirates, Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific.
Featured image by Boeing
What do you think of SpiceJet getting 2 B777s as compensation for B737MAX grounding? What do you think will SpiceJet use these aircraft for: passengers flights or cargo flights? Let me know in the comments section below.