BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Global summer travel to get boost with return of 737 MAX

Summer holidays are already looking good for airlines as aircraft are available to accommodate passengers who can’t wait to travel after travel after the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Boeing Max 8 aircraft was grounded worldwide on March 13, 2019, after two crashes, one in Indonesia in 2018 and the other in Ethiopia in 2019, killing 346 people.

The hundreds of MAX 737 which had been parked after the dual crises over the MAX grounding and the Covid-19 travel industry downturn are set for the skies again and experts say this will definitely boost summer travels.

Susan Akporiaye, president of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, (NANTA) told BusinesDay that summer is already looking good for Nigeria and other countries as there are more planes and summer promos are already on by few airlines.

“Everything we see right now points to very, very robust travel through the spring and summer,” Glenn Hauenstein, Delta Air Lines president said.

In the Asia-Pacific region, airlines have started making noises about new route launches – or more accurately re-launches – as travel restrictions in most countries come down.

Notably, New Zealand’s reopening – following some of the tightest border controls during the pandemic – has prompted high expectations for travel demand in the coming months.

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Auckland Airport said on 12 April that it expects international passenger capacity to surpass pre-pandemic levels by July this year.

Already the return of the 737 MAX to service has given a boost to Boeing’s first-quarter plane deliveries compared with a year ago, according to company data released recently.

The aviation giant reported 77 commercial plane deliveries in the quarter ending March 31.

That is an increase from the 50 delivered in the year-ago period, but barely half the 149 planes delivered in 2019 before dual crises over the MAX grounding and the Covid-19 travel industry downturn.

US air safety regulators in mid-November cleared the MAX to return to service after a 20-month grounding in the wake of two deadly crashes.

Boeing made upgrades to the MAX plane and pilot training protocols. Recently, Boeing recommended that 16 airlines flying the MAX address a “potential electrical issue” discovered during plane production.

In the first quarter, the 737 accounted for 63 of the 77 commercial planes delivered, including 58 of the MAX model.

Boeing in March also notched a second straight month of net positive orders for the MAX after achieving the milestone in February for the first time since November 2019.

Ethiopia has allowed Boeing 737 Max airplanes back to its airspace, three years after one of its national carrier jets crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) said it lifted the ban after being satisfied with improvements in the planes’ design and the airlines’ pilot training programme.

Aviation safety agencies in the US, Brazil, Canada, Australia, the UK, the European Union and elsewhere have ordered Boeing and airlines to make repairs to a flight control system blamed for the two crashes that led to the ban; update operating manuals; and increase pilot training.

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