The two airlines aren’t ones that you’d expect to see represented on the exact aircraft.
SpiceJet and Southwest Airlines are both key low-cost players in India and the US, their respective homelands. Furthermore, at both carriers, the Boeing 737 MAX series is starting to play an increasingly important role. Nonetheless, you perhaps wouldn’t expect to see a SpiceJet plane with Southwest Airlines‘ wingtips.
What has happened to a 737 MAX bearing the US
Nonetheless, as seen in the picture above, this is just what has happened to a 737 MAX bearing the US-based test registration N56807. At first glance, it appears to be a standard-liveried SpiceJet MAX 8, of which the Indian budget operator already flies 13 (and has a further 130 on order), according to ch-aviation.com.
However, upon closer inspection, we can see that its wingtips bear the colors of Dallas-based US low-cost giant Southwest Airlines. It can be easy to miss this, given that they are mostly painted in red and yellow, which are similar colors to those used by SpiceJet in their livery. However, the blue bottom gives it away.
SpiceJet has previously planned to fly to the US, so perhaps some kind of partnership could be in demand? Maybe we’ll see more Southwest MAX aircraft with SpiceJet features, like in the tweet above? As interesting as these theories would be, the reality is rather different, and merely an administrative matter.
Ultimately, the reason for this temporary hybrid ‘Spice-West’ livery simple boils down to the fact that Southwest is acquiring a series of MAX aircraft not carried up by SpiceJet. According to Planespotters.net, the aircraft in the photo at the top of the article would have been registered as VT-MXM and named White Pepper.
However, as said by Life From A Lounge, SpiceJet has since picked up significant excess capacity since ordering some of its MAX jets, which Boeing couldn’t deliver straight away due to the type’s grounding. The ability reached about in the aftermath of Jet Airways’ shutdown, with SpiceJet picking up additional second-hand 737NG models as a result.
This has ultimately prompted the Indian carrier to opt not to take up some of its MAX 8 demands, with 11 of these going to Southwest Airlines. VT-MXM will become N1802U and is the second of the 11 (registered N1801U through to N1811U) when listed numerically. This will also see its seating configuration changed from a 189-seat setup to a less dense 175-seat layout.
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Regardless of the 11 aircraft not taken up, a spokesperson for the Indian budget carrier has approved to The Hindu Business Line that “a significant number of aircraft will be added to SpiceJet’s fleet this year.” The 130 outstanding orders that it has for the type will represent a huge expansion, given that the figure is larger than its current fleet. Indeed, this now consists of just 87 aircraft.
As for Southwest, while the 69 active and 142 ordered Boeing 737 MAX 8s represent a significant sub-fleet, this variant won’t even be it’s most numerous. Indeed, it also has a whopping 264 smaller MAX 7s on order, although it is yet to take delivery of any of these. Both these and its MAX 8s are already 3.1 years old on average.
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