Sunday, October 03, 2021

Aircraft clocks Rs 5.5 crore parking bill after 30-month stay at Kolkata airport

Kolkata: A parking ticket of Rs 5.5 crore. That is the parking fee the SpiceJet Boeing B-737 MAX 8 aircraft (registration no. VT-MXA) has clocked over the past 30 months that it has been stationed at Kolkata airport. The airline will have to clear the bill even as it prepares the aircraft to roll off bay no. 18 and take to the skies again on October 5.

The airport had another B-737 MAX aircraft (registration no. VTJXD) parked till earlier this year. That belonged to Jet Airways, the airline that had gone bust in April 2019, and is now attempting a revival.

The plane took off from Kolkata in June and headed back to the company that had leased it to the airline. Jet Airways had a further order of 100 MAX aircraft before it went bankrupt.

“The SpiceJet B-737 Max 8 aircraft has been stationed at Kolkata airport since March13, 2019. Now that the regulators have started allowing resumption of operations with the narrow-body aircraft, SpiceJet is planning to operate the grounded aircraft again from October 5. Once the plane rolls out of the bay, the airport will hand over the parking charge bill to the airline,”an airport official said.

The SpiceJet aircraft at Kolkata was delivered to the airline on November 2, 2018, barely four months before it was grounded globally following two crashes — one in Indonesia and the other Ethiopia — that were blamed on computer glitches. SpiceJet had to ground 13 aircraft that had been inducted into its fleet.

The airline has been carrying out preventive maintenance of the aircraft that weathered multiple cyclones including Fani, Bulbul, Amphan and Yaas during its stay in Kolkata. With the aircraft now set to take off again, the cabin is undergoing a spring-cleaning and being aired to drive away any hint of mustiness.

The pilots are also undergoing training at the SpiceJet Training Academy in Gurgaon and at the Boeing Simulator facility in Noida. The first batch of 20 pilots have already completed their “requalication syllabus”. The airline had over 350 pilots who were trained or qualified on the MAX at the time when the aircraft was grounded.

03/10/21 Subhro Niyogi/Times of India

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