MUMBAI- Tata-owned India Low-cost arm, Air India Express (IX), is expected to take some Boeing 737 MAX with Business Class seats.
The Air India (AI) group has placed an order for 190 Boeing 737 MAX. Further, these 737 MAXs will be operated by low-cost carrier AI Express.
Air India Express 737 MAX Business Class
According to the source, Air India Express is set to take at least three 737 MAX 8 variants with Business class configuration. These planes were earlier designated to Chinese carrier Shanghai Airlines (FM).
But they do not take up these due to China’s restriction on 737 MAX operations. Further, China has restricted the 737 MAX operations amid US-China trade tensions.
Further, China is looking to promote its homegrown COMAC C919, considered a rival to Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 family jets.
These ex-Shanghai Airlines 737 MAX 8 have the Manufacturer Serial Numbers as follows,
- MSN 61636
- MSN 61639
- MSN 61650
The source further added that opting for non-taken-up (NTU) aircraft ensures rapid delivery for an airline with ambitious expansion plans. It’s possible that these airframes were provided to the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) at a significant discount due to the prevailing circumstances.
Air India Express will be the fourth carrier to operate 737 MAX aircraft in India. Other carriers include defunct Jet Airways (9W), SpiceJet (SG), and, most recently, Akasa Air (QP).
Akasa Air has also taken delivery of 737 MAX with Business class seats. They called it A+ and A++ and sell them at higher rates. But the airline plans to streamline its fleet and remove these seats from this aircraft.
Taking Chinese Planes
According to Jet Arena, Air India Express is set to receive a total of 10 Boeing 737 MAX airplanes. The designated aircraft are as follows:
- MSN 61409
- MSN 61411
- MSN 61636
- MSN 61639
- MSN 61650
- MSN 61647
- MSN 61658
- MSN 61655
- MSN 61662
- MSN 61660
The first two aircraft, MSN 61409 and MSN 61411 were designated to Okay Airways (BK).
The subsequent three, MSN 61636, MSN 61639, and MSN 61650, were formerly announced for Shanghai Airlines (FM).
The remaining five aircraft, MSN 61647, MSN 61658, MSN 61655, MSN 61662, and MSN 61660, were previously designated for China Eastern Airlines (MU). It’s worth noting that all three of these airlines are based in China.
New Destinations with Boeing fleet
Air India Express (IX) is poised to experience its most rapid expansion since its inception, facilitated by the completion of its merger with AirAsia India and the planned incorporation of approximately 50 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft by December 2024.
These strategic moves will enable the airline to amplify its existing West Asia network. Further introduce novel domestic and international routes, including destinations like Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and the Maldives, reports Hindu BusinessLine.
Currently, AI Express boasts a fleet of 26 Boeing 737 NG aircraft, while AirAsia India (I5) operates 28 Airbus A320 planes. Both airlines maintain distinct branding but are set to transition to the AIX brand later in the year.
A total of approximately 150 pilots have been recruited over the past eighteen months. Additionally, AIX pilots are presently undergoing simulator training to equip them with the skills necessary to operate the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.
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