Southwest and American pull 737 MAX until early March, nearly a year after grounding
By Tracy Rucinski and David Shepardson CHICAGO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Southwest Airlines and American Airlines Group Inc said on Friday they are extending Boeing 737 MAX cancellations until early March, just shy of the one-year anniversary of an Ethiopian Airlines crash of the jet that led to a worldwide grounding. Southwest and American, the two largest U.S.
By Tracy Rucinski and David Shepardson
CHICAGO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Southwest Airlines
Southwest and American, the two largest U.S. operators of the aircraft, have had to scale back growth plans and are together cancelling more than 300 flights a day, taking a hit to profits as they manage slimmer fleets without the 737 MAX.
Southwest, which has bet its entire growth strategy on Boeing's newest single-aisle aircraft, had previously canceled all its 737 MAX flights until Feb. 8 and now expects a return to service on March 6, though it warned that the timeline could get pushed back again.
American said it planned to resume commercial flights on the 737 MAX on March 5, and expects to run test flights for American team members and invited guests before that date, once the aircraft is certified.
That has thrown into question when Boeing would be able to complete a certification test flight. The Federal Aviation Administration has said it would not unground the planes until 30 days after that flight occurs.
The 737 MAX, Boeing's best-selling plane, has been grounded since March after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people.
Two U.S. officials told Reuters it is extremely unlikely - if not impossible - that Boeing will be able to win approval to return flights to service before the end of December.
(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler and Bill Berkrot)
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