Indian low cost carrier SpiceJet will be adding Boeing 777s to its fleet soon. It remains to be seen what the carrier’s plans are for the planes, though.
SpiceJet getting two Boeing 777-200ERs
For context, SpiceJet’s fleet currently consists of 115 aircraft, including Boeing 737 and De Havilland Dash 8 aircraft. The carrier has huge growth plans beyond that, with an additional 190+ Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on order.
That brings us to SpiceJet’s surprising fleet expansion. Over the weekend the carrier posted on Twitter to recruit Boeing 777-200ER pilots. That confused many of us, since the carrier doesn’t currently have any Boeing 777s, and up until now, we didn’t know of any plans for the airline to acquire these planes.
The Times of India reports on the details of what’s going on. SpiceJet will allegedly be taking delivery of two used Boeing 777-200ERs in December 2021. Apparently these planes are coming from Boeing, and are part of SpiceJet’s compensation for its Boeing 737 MAX fleet being grounded for 19 months.
There’s a huge number of secondhand Boeing 777s available right now, given how many airlines have retired these in favor of new Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s. It’s purely speculation on my part, but I know both Delta Air Lines and Singapore Airlines have retired Boeing 777-200ERs fairly recently, so maybe the planes are coming from one of those two carriers?
What will SpiceJet do with Boeing 777s?
We know that SpiceJet is taking delivery of two Boeing 777s, but what are the plans with those planes? While there’s not much official yet, there are two possibilities:
- SpiceJet may start passenger flights with Boeing 777s, with service to North America being a possibility (though I could also see the airline instead flying the planes to the UK, Middle East, etc.); in 2020 SpiceJet shared its intentions to start flying to the United States, but of course at the time the airline lacked the planes to do that
- SpiceJet may use the Boeing 777s for dedicated cargo flights, since that’s largely what’s most lucrative nowadays
Since SpiceJet is taking delivery of secondhand Boeing 777s, I’m curious how these planes are configured. Historically most SpiceJet planes have just featured economy class. I wonder if SpiceJet will configure long haul aircraft in the same way, or if we see SpiceJet offer a premium product on these planes.
If SpiceJet wants to fly these planes nonstop between India and the United States, odds are that the airline will need to have a premium product, since an all-economy 777-200ER would be too heavy to operate many routes nonstop.
During the pandemic, SpiceJet wet leased some wide body aircraft for cargo flights. Wet leasing means that the planes were operated by non-SpiceJet crews, so the airline was essentially responsible for the business side of things. That’s a totally different game than what’s happening here, as SpiceJet will be responsible for crewing these planes as well.
SpiceJet will be taking delivery of two used Boeing 777-200ERs next month, which are apparently part of a compensation deal with Boeing over 737 MAX groundings. It remains to be seen what exactly the airline does with these planes, as they’ll either be used for passenger flights or cargo service. In the event these planes are used for passenger flights, it’ll be interesting to see how cabins are configured.
What do you make of SpiceJet acquiring 777s?
They should just use these planes for cargo as you said, or for high-density routes within India (of which I'm sure there are plenty). There's no way they could compete on ultra-long hauls to the US. United, AA, and Air India have way better brand recognition, better planes, and better products. Not to mention the fact that the Gulf carriers and European airlines are also very popular for one-stop options and Vistara and Delta might...
They should just use these planes for cargo as you said, or for high-density routes within India (of which I'm sure there are plenty). There's no way they could compete on ultra-long hauls to the US. United, AA, and Air India have way better brand recognition, better planes, and better products. Not to mention the fact that the Gulf carriers and European airlines are also very popular for one-stop options and Vistara and Delta might enter/re-enter the market in the coming years.
They are advertising for 777 pilots? You mean they don't offer an "upgrade path" for existing pilots to qualify on a new aircraft type?
Scary and Sporty. They need three more.
Delta just retired their 777’s last year makes sense for the used market