By Taylor Rains
TUI fly Belgium to Become First European Airline to Resume MAX Flights
On Feb. 17, TUI Belgium will resume Boeing 737 MAX 8 operations. The news comes just a few weeks after the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified the aircraft to fly again in the European Union. According to Aviation24.be, TUI fly Belgium will begin MAX flights to Spain, making it the first European carrier to fly the MAX again after its recertification.
While the airline has not officially announced the MAX’s return, according to the Brussel Airport website, TUI flight 1011 is scheduled for 9:30 AM on Wednesday, Feb. 17. The aircraft to be used is a Boeing 737 MAX 8 registered as OO-MAX, and it will fly to Alicante, Spain, via Malaga. The plane will arrive in Malaga around 12:15 PM with an hour layover. It it will then depart for Alicante with an expected arrival time of 14:20.
The aircraft will resume operations after 20 months of being grounded following two fatal crashes in October 2018 and March 2019. OO-MAX was the first of four MAX aircraft that TUI welcomed into its fleet. It is about three years old and configured with 189 economy seats.
Based on flight data from FlightAware.com, MAX flight JAF66K flew for a little over an hour over Belgium and Luxembourg on Monday, Feb. 15. JAF66K also completed a two-hour, ten-minute flight over Belgium and Germany on Wednesday, February 10. These were likely test flights conducted before the aircraft resumes commercial operations on February 17.
Although Aviation24.be has reported TUI Belgium’s MAX flight for Wednesday, an airline spokesperson could not confirm the information. TUI spokeswoman Sarah Saucin told Aviation24.be, “Following recent approvals from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Directorate General for Air Transport (DGTA) for the return of the Boeing 737 MAX to European air traffic, we are preparing to resume flights with our four planes of that type. Last week we already had a successful first flight without passengers on board and we plan to make our first commercial flights in the days and weeks to come.”
“As you know, flight plans are subject to many factors and therefore it is not possible to concretely confirm a future flight with a certain aircraft,” Saucin added.
TUI fly Belgium is the first European airline to resume MAX operations. It joins American Airlines, WestJet, United Airlines and Aeromexico in North America and GOL Brazil in South America to resume MAX operations.
GOL was the first airline to fly the MAX again after its grounding in March 2019. All airlines that currently operate the jet resumed operations after months of aircraft modifications and employee training, assuring customers that safety is the number one priority for the MAX’s return.