The MAX is back: Low-cost airline slates first commercial Boeing 737 MAX flight in Europe for this month

Feb 11, 2021

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Boeing’s once-beleaguered 737 MAX aircraft is set to make its return to commercial flying in Europe this month.

According to Cirium data, the first scheduled Boeing 737 MAX flight to carry passengers in Europe will take place on 25 February with a low-cost Czech airline.

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If the flight goes ahead as planned, it will be the first time a 737 MAX aircraft will have carried passengers in European air space since it was grounded in March 2019 following a spate of fatal crashes. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) officially ungrounded the Boeing 737 MAX on 27 January, allowing it to return to European skies.

Operating the first flight is Smartwings, a Czech-operated low-cost airline. As it stands now, the flight will depart the airline’s Prague (PRG) hub at 6:05 p.m. and fly to Palma de Mallorca (PMI) where it will land at 8:35 p.m. before returning back to Prague, according to the flight timetable listed on Expert Flyer.

(Image courtesy of Expert Flyer)

In total, the airline has seven MAXs in its fleet — all of which are currently parked in Prague.

The airline is reportedly planning on bringing all seven of its MAXs back to service for the summer, operating them primarily on longer routes from Prague (PRG) to the Canaries, the UAE, Oman and Cape Verde.

TPG reached out to Smartwings to find out more about its first MAX flight but did not receive a response by time of publication.

Closer to home, the airlines with the most MAXs either already in their fleet or on order are Tui and Ryanair. However, it’s likely to be some time still before passengers are back flying on MAXs in the U.K. given the current lockdown restrictions, which render non-essential travel illegal.

Related: When will we be able to travel again? 

While it’s been a long time since passengers flew a MAX in the U.K., a TUI 737 MAX aircraft entered U.K. airspace back in September when it flew without passengers from Spain to Birmingham Airport (BHX) for maintenance. Special permission had to be granted by the CAA and EASA for the ferry flight to take place.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the U.S. has lifted restrictions. In November, the aircraft had been granted permission to retake to the skies above America. The aircraft officially returned to service on 3 December 2020, on a media flight when it flew from Dallas (DFW) to Tulsa (TUL).

The aircraft also returned to service in Brazil in December.

The aircraft has undergone vital changes and modifications for it to be certified to fly commercially again.

Related: A pilot and mechanic explain what’s needed to bring the 737 MAX back

Other European carriers, such as Norwegian and Icelandair, also have MAX flights scheduled for 1 March and 8 March, respectively. Given current travel restrictions due to COVID-19, these schedules are subject to change.

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Featured image courtesy Smart Wings

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