The Boeing 737 MAX is making a slower return than expected to European skies as a potential third wave of Covid-19 infections hits the continent.

    Cirium analysis has however revealed that optimism persists that a loosening of travel restrictions later this year will herald a rapid ramp-up of the European-operated fleet of Boeing’s latest-generation single-aisle twinjet.

    LOT Polish Airlines has become the fifth European operator to re-introduce revenue flights with the type, just over a month after TUIfly Belgium operated the first revenue service on February 17.

    737 MAX

    As of March 24, Cirium had tracked flight activity for 10 European-operated MAX aircraft – while a further 66 remained in storage – with daily commercial services peaking at seven on both March 14 and 21. Operations have been sporadic in the current low-demand environment, with no commercial flights tracked for March 16 or 23.

    Ryanair meanwhile revealed on March 24 that it no longer expects to receive its first of 199 MAX aircraft on firm order this month, but expects to take delivery of eight aircraft in April and a similar number the following month.

    A total of 39 European airlines and leasing companies hold firm orders for a total of 767 MAX aircraft, Cirium fleets data shows. European carriers had been operating approximately 200 MAX flights daily in March 2019 using over 50 aircraft, prior to the type’s worldwide grounding in the wake of two fatal crashes.

    Globally, more than 300 MAX flights were operated on March 24, by 115 aircraft.