Low-cost carrier SpiceJet has announced that it will be one of the first airlines to offer broadband in the skies as it rolls out a brand new fleet of Boeing 737 MAX jets from December onwards, in a bid to appeal to domestic passengers who are already beginning to return to air travel in the post-pandemic period.
Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director of SpiceJet, told NDTV that since the accidents and safety issues that grounded the MAX series two years ago, it had gone through extensive safety evaluation making it one of the "safest aeroplanes" in the world. Spicejet has acquired 13 of them out of a total order of 205 jets. The overall worth of the deal is $22 billion.
"SpiceJet started to fly this aircraft two days ago. And so far, with all the flights that we have flown, there's not even been a minor issue," he said. "...It's incredibly important to have a fuel-efficient aircraft. The MAX is 20% more fuel-efficient than our older aircraft, the Boeing 737-NG."
In addition to fuel efficiency, safety and more room in flights, the airlines will also start to roll out internet in flights, which Singh said would be free of cost so that passengers could access broadband easily on the flight, including OTT and streaming services. However calling facilities would have to be excluded since this would disturb other passengers, he added.
He has also dismissed the protests surrounding salary dues and retrenchment in the Covid-hit field, especially SpiceJet, saying that the company had opted to distribute its revenue more thinly in order to avoid retrenchment.
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala's upcoming airline venture Akasa Air placed an order for as many as 72 Boeing 737 Max aircraft at a price of $9 billion earlier this month as well, signalling a partial hope of recovery in the domestic Air travel sector which has been hit hard by lockdowns, travel restrictions and lack of passengers. Akasa's recent order is the largest following the 737 Max grounding, as well as one of the largest orders that the 737 Max family has ever received. The order includes two types of aircraft from the 737 Max family — the 737-8 and the high-capacity 737-8-200 aircraft.