Two years since its grounding and nearly seven months following the recertification and Airworthiness Directive (AD) issued by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Royal Air maroc and Mauritania Airlines are the only carriers flying the jetliner for scheduled services in Africa.
Ethiopian Airlines with four Boeing 737 MAX 8s in its fleet that have been parked at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, has not yet began flying the Boeing 737 Max on revenue services despite Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam earlier this year indicating that the airline would restart MAX operations in July 2021.
Comair took delivery of its first 737 MAX 8 on 27 February 2019, but the aircraft has not featured in Comair’s operating schedule, due the grounding of the aircraft type.
Kenya’s Civil Aviation Authority and Nigerian counterpart Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have nevertheless lifted the ban on the aircraft to their respective airspace.
But with airlines forced to cut anywhere from 50% to 90% of their capacity through the worst of the pandemic, grounding planes and suspending routes, their biggest challenge is bringing their sprawling complex networks back online. Even as travel demand is slowly beginning to ramp back up, carriers are cautiously pulling grounded aircraft back into service, and restoring capacity on their networks.
Not many operators in Africa fancy the MAX with Nigeria’s Air Peace and Arik Air the only airlines with an order of 10 MAX and 8 MAX aircraft respectively while Green Africa Airways cancelled the order for 50 MAX aircraft in favour of Airbus A220-300 jetliner.
The MAX grounding – after crashes that killed 346 people – has been the worst crisis in Boeing’s history characterised by design flaws from Boeing Company leading to multiple investigations, damaging its reputation worldwide, and ultimately losing its grip on the single isle market to its main rival Airbus.
By Victor Shalton Odhiambo