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Boeing 737 MAX to be grounded fully by early evening today: DGCA officials

The Boeing 737 MAX being operated by SpiceJet will finally be grounded by early evening today, said senior officials in the aviation regulator.

“While the groundings were ordered, there is a time given for last-minute exigencies. An aircraft has to return to base, if it was at some international station. Aircraft are to be brought back to maintenance hangers because an aircraft requires maintenance even when it’s grounded,” said a senior DGCA official, who did not want to be identified.

He added that the European regulators might have informed airlines much before announcing the grounding of aircraft. “That is the reason why airlines in Europe were able to ground the aircraft immediately,” said the official.

Late night on Tuesday, India banned operations of Boeing 737 MAX plane after this week’s crash of this aircraft type in the African skies, increasing the likelihood of a further surge in domestic fares that remain high due to unrelated flight cancellations by some carriers.

The ban came a day after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had allowed the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to fly under stricter conditions. The ban would impact SpiceJet the most. SpiceJet and troubled Jet Airways are the only two airlines operating the Boeing 737 MAX in the country.

Grounding of 12 such aircraft operated by the local carriers could disrupt the operations and increase domestic fares that are already high due to flight cancellations by Jet Airways and IndiGo.

Five aircraft of Jet Airways were grounded due to non-payment of dues to lessors.

DGCA will issue a formal clarification soon.

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