The Boeing 737 MAX is back in operation in Europe. On Wednesday, the Belgian subsidiary of TUIfly carried out the first commercial flight of the aircraft after the long period of grounding due to two fatal accidents. The first route on which the 737 MAX was used again was the one connecting Brussels to Malaga and Alicante, both in Spain.
EASA, the European civilian agency, had authorized the Boeing jet to fly again in January, but so far no customer of the aircraft had decided to return it to service. Before returning to service, TUIfly ran test flights on recent days, including one on Monday.
Almost 100 years old, the German group TUI operates in the leisure tourism sector and has 135 aircraft in the fleets of its various subsidiaries, among them 15 737 MAX 8. The Belgian division has 32 jets, four of which are the newest Boeing jetliner variant.
In addition to TUI, Icelandair (6 aircraft), LOT (5), Smartwings (7), Turkish Airlines (12) and Norwegian Air (18) also use the 737, but the Norwegian company is expected to return 14 of them.
MAX’s biggest customer in Europe will be Ryanair, which has 210 planes ordered in the MAX 8-200 variant, capable of carrying up to 200 passengers. The Irish company, however, still awaits certification of this version before receiving the first jet.