Friday, August 06, 2021

A Look At SpiceJet’s Shrinking Aircraft Fleet

Indian low-cost airline SpiceJet was on a huge fleet expansion at the start of 2020, with 42 new aircraft in under a year. While the airline’s 737 MAXs were still grounded, SpiceJet was leasing new aircraft to make up for the shortfall. Fast forward 18 months and the carrier has rapidly lost planes, with its fleet size dipping below 100 aircraft recently. Here’s a look at SpiceJet’s shrinking fleet.

In February 2020, SpiceJet was looking forward to a strong year. While it was hoping for its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to be recertified, it had expanded beyond the type to wet lease two Airbus A320s, a big change for the airline.

However, just a month later, the days of not meeting capacity demand were over as the pandemic decimated business. The carrier was effectively grounded from March 25th to May 25th, only flying its few freighters 737-800s in that period.

Here is where SpiceJet’s fleet troubles began showing up. Three 737-800s left the fleet in February 2020 alone, followed by five more 738s and one 737-700s too. From a fleet of 121 aircraft at its peak, the size fell to just 110, and the bleeding would not stop there. The next few months saw more aircraft leave, with four more leaving in the April and May of 2020.

Once demand began returning to the domestic market, SpiceJet’s fleet exodus paused. The carrier began flying dozens of new international cargo routes, capitalizing on the lack of freight traffic from India due to the pandemic. This period actually saw its fleet increase once again, with one Airbus A340 and A321 officially joining for freight operations.

However, as the pandemic dragged on, SpiceJet’s cash balance became dangerously low. Two more 737-800s left the fleet in August and October 2020, which hopefully marked the end of the fleet changes. However, the loss of these two planes meant SpiceJet only operated 99 aircraft, losing its status as India’s third airline will be a fleet of over 100 jets.

06/08/21 Pranjal Pande/Simple Flying

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