TUI fly Belgium plans to carry out the first passenger flight with a Boeing 737 MAX after the grounding in the coming days or weeks.
According to the Brussels Airport website, the first flight (TB1011) would be operated on Wednesday 17 February at 09:30 (UTC+1) on a triangular route Brussels-Malaga-Alicante-Brussels. The airport even specifies that the flight will be carried out by the aircraft registered OO-MAX.
However, Sarah Saucin, a spokesperson for TUI Belgium, could not confirm the information and told Aviation24.be that “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.”
She continued: “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.”
TUI fly Belgium has four Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in its fleet. They were parked at Brussels Airport for over 20 months after the aircraft type was grounded worldwide in March 2019. The reason was two fatal crashes with the aircraft type in short succession, in which a total of 346 people were killed.
In recent months, the flight ban for the aircraft type has already been lifted in the United States, Brazil and Canada. The European aviation authority EASA gave the green light for the 737 MAX at the end of January.
After EASA authorised the aircraft to fly again in European skies, TUI fly operated a first test flight on 10 February with the aircraft registered OO-TMY and intended to do a second test this Monday afternoon with OO-MAX, the very first Boeing 737 MAX delivered to TUI fly Belgium in January 2018. The flight number for the latter is JAF066K at 16:20.