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NEW DELHI : No-frills carrier SpiceJet Ltd. will induct 50 Boeing 737 Max planes by 2022-23 as the airline hopes to phase out its older Boeing 737-800 NG and replace them with fuel efficient Max planes, the airline's chairman and managing director Ajay Singh said on Tuesday.

"We want to induct 737 Max aircraft as quickly as possible. At the moment the airline has 13 737 Max planes in its fleet," said Singh, adding that the airline will take the delivery of its 14th 737Max plane by 10 December and take another three deliveries in coming months.

SpiceJet had in 2017 ordered 205 Boeing 737Max planes, which includes 155 firm orders and 50 options.

The 737 Max planes were grounded in 2019 following two fatal crashes involving the aircraft.

The plane returned to service in the US and Europe over the past year following extensive fixes by Boeing while it was allowed to return to service in India by the regulator in August. Globally, the plane has logged about 311,000 flying hours since December 2020.

Apart from SpiceJet, upcoming airline Akasa Air, the Indian low-cost airline backed by billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, is the other operator of 737 Max planes. The airline announced that it has placed an order for 72 Boeing 737 MAX jets earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Singh said SpiceJet hopes to complete the culling out of cargo and logistic arm into a seperate entity by January 2022.

SpiceJet also plans to expand its international operations in the coming months with its Boeing 737Max planes. The airline, which recently restarted flights to Dubai, also plans to expand its operations to countries like Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia.

At present, commercial international flights remain banned and only special flights under air bubble agreements are allowed to operate.

India currently has bilateral agreements with about 30 countries to operate international flights.

"We are hoping that the passenger demand (resurrection in passenger demand in past few months) is sustainable. However, the lockdown in Europe (due to increase in active cases) is a concern for the sector though SpiceJet doesn't fly there," Singh added.

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