Budget carrier SpiceJet could become the second-largest domestic carrier in terms of fleet size by early next year as it expects grounded Boeing 737-8 Max to be back in service in January 2020. SpiceJet chairman and managing director Ajay Singh told a business news channel that the airline's total fleet size will be around 125 planes by January after the re-induction of the Max fleet. To be sure, SpiceJet is already the second-largest carrier in the country in terms of domestic market share after the grounding of Jet Airways.
National carrier Air India currently has 127 aircraft behind IndiGo which operates with a fleet of 243 planes."The fleet size will be 125 as we have certain aircraft grounded and some are in the US, waiting to be delivered. The timeline we have been given by Boeing is early November. They feel that by early November the aircraft will be certified by the FAA (US aviation regulator) and then it would depend on how much does the DGCA takes. Our timeline for this is January," Singh told CNBC-TV18.
Directorate general of civil aviation had ordered grounding of 13 B737 Max aircraft in March 2019 following two fatal incidents in foreign countries. Singh said that several airlines have started receiving compensation for revenue losses from Boeing. However, his talks on the quantum of 'fair' compensation with the US planemaker are still on.
"In terms of compensation, a dialogue is going on with Boeing. It has provided a certain sum of money for compensation to airlines around the world. And we hope that the compensation will be fair and equitable. No installment has come in yet, the dialogue is on what that compensation ought to be," Singh said.
In its Q1FY20 results, SpiceJet had factored in reimbursements of Rs 114 crore from Boeing against revenue loss incurred due to grounded Max aircraft. Jet's grounding has helped SpiceJet in strengthening its domestic network and rapidly expand on overseas routes. It has so far added 32 aircraft from Jet's fleet.
"We have been able to add airport slots and international traffic rights to destinations like Hong Kong, Dubai, etc. In airports like Mumbai we had only 30 flights but now we have increased our flights to 81. We have taken that space (after Jet's closure) as much as we could," Singh added.