11 SpiceJet 737 MAX NTU aircraft being taken over by Southwest

SpiceJet has up to 205 of Boeing 737 MAXs on order, having ordered in 2016 a 100 new aircraft, converted 42 from an existing order and added 13 discretely. They also have purchase rights on another 50 planes. SpiceJet was in the group of launch customers for the Boeing 737 MAX 10, where they have 40 of those on order as well. The airline received its first aircraft in 2018, with 189 seats on board, and since then, quickly inducted 13 of these aircraft in its fleet.

a large airplane parked on a tarmac

However, in 2019, on the back of the global grounding of the 737 MAX aircraft, Boeing stopped delivering the aircraft. However, so confident was Boeing about the 737 MAX, that it continued to produce these aircraft, before stopping the production in 2020 as they ran out of space to store these aircraft.

In the meantime, with the shutdown of Jet Airways, however, excess capacity came around in India, and SpiceJet absorbed a whole lot of second-hand, or perhaps even third-hand airframes of the 737 NG variety which might have been coming cheap from the lessors. The airline, however, fell on financially tough times itself with Covid-19 and hence tried to not work with DGCA to unground the 737 MAX in India.

The 737 MAX was ungrounded by the FAA in late 2020, however, in India, the DGCA only ungrounded the aircraft in late 2021 after a substantial push by Boeing, which might have been the pre-requisite for the aircraft deal with Akasa to be signed. Even then, SpiceJet only started to work with their (already inducted) 737 MAX aircraft after the Dubai Airshow, and finally, 11 out of their 13 aircraft are in regular service, with VT-MXF/VT-MXJ being the only ones that are not in service, yet.

a group of men holding airplanes

At the press conference organised by SpiceJet to announce their MAX entering service again, SpiceJet had told media that they plan to induct 50 aircraft in 2022-23 as a part of their plans to refresh their fleet, and they would let go 737 NG aircraft in the process.

In the meantime, Boeing has had a pileup of 737 MAX aircraft at their sites across the US, given (usually) any airframe can be cancelled by the designated owner if the aircraft does not turn up within 12 months of the originally committed date. In the case of SpiceJet, it seems under this, or some other clause of their settlement with Boeing, SpiceJet has refused to accept about 11 of their 737 MAX already assembled and tested by Boeing. These aircraft were all manufactured in 2019, while the grounding of the MAX was ongoing.

Southwest to take over 11 SpiceJet NTU 737 MAX aircraft

At least 11 737 MAX which were not taken up (NTU) by SpiceJet, are now going to be taken up by Southwest. Along with some assistance from Twitter friends, we managed to dig up the list of the aircraft which have been in the process of (re)registration in the US FAA registry, and will be painted and handed over to Southwest in due course of time.

a table with numbers and letters

Apparently, some of these were SpiceJet’s own book, and some were already signed on with lessors such as CDB Aviation and Avolon. This could be a part of the settlement that was made in 2021 by SpiceJet with both these lessors. We reached out to the lessors for a comment. While CDB Aviation did not respond, Avolon via their Comms Agency told us, that Avolon does not comment on specific customer relationships.

And as I was writing up this article, the first images have also started surfacing of an aircraft which was earlier painted in SpiceJet livery, but now painted for Southwest. The image was posted by BFI_watch_ca350, a planespotting account on Twitter. The aircraft has just returned from Victorville into Boeing Field, after being repainted on March 8, 2022.

a blue airplane taking off

Boeing 737 MAX SpiceJet NTU (Image courtesy Twitter BFI_watch_ca350)

As you would note, the image still has a rudder painted in SpiceJet colours. (Re)painting the rudder requires precision, and will be done separately as compared to the rest of the aircraft.

There should also be some modifications made inside since the SpiceJet configuration for these aircraft was 189 seats in Economy, but Southwest operates theirs with 175 seats.

The Boeing Order and Delivery sheet does not show the changes made to the order book if any.


11 Boeing 737 MAX 8 which have been not taken up by SpiceJet are now headed for Southwest. The first one is almost ready to be handed over to Southwest, and the rest of these will be (re)painted and modified and delivered shortly after. In the meantime, SpiceJet says it will take on more 737 MAX in 2022, but this move seems to run counter to the public statements.

(H/T to @MZulqarnainBut1)

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. Typically we don’t buy expired products! So if the planes being delivered are more than 2 years old, without much flying the liability of maintenance doesn’t go away as many are time critical and not operational critical. I believe Boeing didn’t compensate Spicejet adequately for the grounding of MAX aircraft. So what is wrong in refusing delivery if the contract allows?
    If one had an option would you take delivery of a car which was manufactured 2 years ago?

    • @Deccan Sher since you seem to know about the compensation that SpiceJet received from Boeing, why don’t you first tell us the details about that. How many $mio per aircraft grounded per day and so on.

  2. Spicejet seems to be having oo many problems off late.

    I think the biggest indication is the fact that the airline is not even operating flights properly.

    Amd now it’s MAX planes are being distributed to other airlines.

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