India’s civil aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), announced on August 26 that it had cleared Boeing’s B737-8 and B737-9 aircraft to take to the skies with immediate effect.

The lifting of the ban, which had been in effect since March 19, means that SpiceJet (SG, Delhi Int'l), the only carrier in the country with MAX aircraft, can now resume operations with its grounded fleet and that start-up Akasa Air can proceed with its plan to place orders for the aircraft.

The rescission allows flights in India with MAX aircraft “only upon satisfaction of applicable requirements for return to service,” the aviation safety regulator said in its order, published on its website.

Around 175 countries have allowed this fourth generation of the Boeing narrowbody to return to service following a global ban imposed in the wake of two fatal crashes, and 30 airlines have resumed or are planning to restart their MAX services. China is now the only major market not to do so, although Boeing conducted a test flight there earlier this month.

SpiceJet has taken delivery of thirteen B737-8s and has 133 more awaiting delivery, the ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows. CDB Aviation leases five of the thirteen to the low-cost carrier, BOC Aviation three, Avolon and Goshawk two each, and GECAS one.

The airline revealed in its own statement on August 26 that it had “entered into a settlement” with Avolon “paving the way for the airline’s 737 MAX aircraft to start to return to service.” It “hopes to see its MAX aircraft back in air soon, subject to regulatory approvals,” it said, adding that this could be “around the end of September.”

“As India emerges from Covid and air traffic picks up again, the MAX aircraft will play a major role in our future expansion. With a better and a more efficient fleet back in operation, we expect a significant reduction in our operating costs, improving our bottom line,” said Ajay Singh, SpiceJet’s chairman and managing director.

According to local media, Akasa Air has been in talks with Boeing to acquire up to one hundred B737 MAX aircraft, and the start-up LCC had also been appealing to the Indian government to recertify the aircraft type.