Mumbai: Indian aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which late on Tuesday night grounded all Boeing 737 Max planes in India, has given airlines till 4 pm to withdraw these planes from operations, the regulator said in a statement.
"In continuation with the decision of DGCA to ground B737 Max operations, further clarification follows. B737Max operations will stop from/to all Indian airports," the DGCA statement issued on Wednesday morning said.
"Additionally, no B737 Max aircraft will be allowed to enter or transit Indian airspace effective 1600 hrs Indian time or 1030 UTC (4 pm). The timeline is to cater to situations where aircraft can be positioned at maintenance facilities and international flights can reach their destinations," it added.
DGCA's decision to ground all Boeing 737 Max planes in India is in line with similar pre-emptive moves across the world following Sunday's plane crash in Ethiopia.
The aviation regulator has decided to ground the Boeing planes until appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations.
Two of India’s biggest airlines, SpiceJet Ltd and Jet Airways (India) Ltd, have so far taken delivery of 17 B737 Max 8 planes. Five of those planes, forming part of Jet Airways’ fleet, have been grounded by lessors for non-payment of dues.
The two carriers are awaiting delivery of a total of 362 Boeing 737 Max jetliners, which are slated to be delivered over the next decade, according to airline executives.
SpiceJet cancelled several flights on Wednesday as a result of the latest DGCA order.
"SpiceJet has announced cancellation of 14 flights for today and will be operating additional flights from tomorrow. Of the 76 planes in our fleet, 64 aircraft are in operations and we are confident of minimizing the inconvenience to our passengers and attain normalcy in our operations," SpiceJet said in a statement.
"Consequent to the regulatory directive on the Boeing 737 Max, SpiceJet has already initiated grounding of its Max fleet. In order to cause least inconvenience to its passengers and also bring these aircraft to the maintenance base we expect to complete this exercise on or before 4 pm today," it said, adding, "While a majority of passengers affected as a result of these cancellations have been accommodated by SpiceJet on alternate flights, the rest have been offered a full refund."