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Imagenation

Maxed out
India joins a long list of countries that have decided to ground the Boeing 737 Max 8 leading to a slew of flight cancellations and huge spike in air fares

Krishna Gopalan

In 2016 , the Boeing 737 Max 8 made its debut flight. The hype was understandable given that it was the fourth generation of the legendary Boeing 737. All was hunky dory till October last year, when Lion Air, one of the first customers of the 737 Max 8, saw its flight crash into the Java Sea soon after taking off, killing all on board. This aircraft was just two months old and on March 10, it was Ethiopian Airlines’ turn on the flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, with the flight having flown for barely four months. The daggers were now out and in a swift flow of events, leading countries across the world  apart from US and Japan decided to ground the 737 Max 8, with Boeing managing no more than a meek statement attempting to allay concerns. India too followed suit, with two of its carriers, SpiceJet having 13 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircrafts as part of its fleet and Jet Airways owning five of them. The frustration for passengers, especially in India, has been a slew of cancelled flights, with SpiceJet cancelling 14 flights following the DGCA announcement that all Boeing 737 Max 8 will be grounded from 4.00 pm on March 12. With a lot more flight cancellations expected, airfares have already spiked up with some routes like Delhi-Mumbai seeing a 50-60% hike and fares doubling for Delhi-Chennai flights and even quadrupling on some routes. With uncertainty looming large on when the 737 Max will be airborne again, all the cancellations have turned out to be a bonanza for some of the players such as Indigo which firmly backs Boeing’s rival Airbus.

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