Airlines react to Boeing’s New 737 MAX Forecast

In yet another bad week for Boeing, the manufacturer has now admitted it doesn’t expect to have certification for its 737 MAX until at least the middle of this year. The result of this further setback means that airlines are having to come up with contingency plans. Several airlines have now released official reactions to the lengthened grounding, so who has already reacted and what can we expect over the coming weeks?

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Over 300 737 MAX are grounded affecting almost 60 airlines. Photo: Getty Images

 

The new announcement from Boeing this week has put an end to hopes that the troubled 737 MAX would be back in the sky by March. In an official press statement yesterday, Boeing confirmed that “we are currently estimating that the ungrounding of the 737 MAX will begin during mid-2020”. This is the first official press statement regarding the MAX under new CEO David Calhoun and is the sixth extension since the groundings in March 2019.

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This means airlines who were relying on the MAX to cover new routes at the start of the summer season will have to compromise and find alternative aircraft or adapt schedules. Several airlines have released statements in response to Boeing including Icelandair, Air Canada and flydubai.

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Icelandair

Icelandair released a short statement which clearly shows they had expected further delays. The statement confirms that the airline does not plan to operate the MAX during the summer high season and that this has been the plan for a while. Icelandair’s press release states that the extended grounding “will have a minimal impact on Icelandair’s flight schedule 2020 as it was set up with the aim to minimize the impact of a possible further delay”.

The airline is covering routes using three leased Boeing 737-800s. It will also keep more Boeing 757s in operation over this year rather than retiring them.

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A grounded Icelandair 737 MAX sits in a carpark. Photo: Getty Images

Flydubai

Flydubai had the second largest order of MAX jets of any airline. Although it had only received a few of the 250 it is due, the airline had leased aircraft to cover the grounded jets. However, it is now looking at having to lease more jets to cover routes into the summer season. Unlike Icelandair, the airline has said the financial impact will continue to grow. It’s fairly common knowledge that the airline is looking to replace its Boeing order with Airbus A320s.

Air Canada

Air Canada has also released a statement in response to Boeing. The airline has said it has fully removed the plane from schedules until 30 June. The reasons it gave were to help clarify customer bookings and to effectively manage its fleet. It has 24 grounded 737 MAX aircraft and has had to extend leases on several aircraft to help manage the impact of the groundings.

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Air Canada hopes to have its MAX back in the sky by the end of June. Photo: Liam Allport via Flickr

American Airlines

Although Boeing only released its new estimate this week, American Airlines beat them to the punch and announced in an update last week that it doesn’t expect to be using its MAX until after 4 June. This is one of the earliest dates an airline has announced but after Boeing’s new announcement, they may update this statement. The airline has confirmed that due to the MAX being out of service, it will have to cancel 140 flights per day until the aircraft is back in the air. No wonder they are hoping for an early June certification.

Southwest

Like American Airlines, Southwest has opted for a hopeful return to service in early June; the 6 June to be precise. This is again because the airline has confirmed that it has to cancel 175 flights a-day until the MAX is back. The airline said,

By proactively removing the MAX from scheduled service, we can reduce last-minute flight cancellations and unexpected disruptions to our customers’ travel plans”.

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A row of grounded Southwest Airlines 737 MAX. Photo: Getty Images

While comparing which airlines had reacted to Boeing’s statement this week, it became very clear that most airlines don’t seem surprised by the extension. Not only have we had several extensions before, but airlines just don’t seem to trust Boeing when they have previously announced dates for ungrounding the aircraft.

While some airlines remain hopeful citing early summer dates for the MAX’s return, many have stopped giving exact dates. Icelandair simply said “summer”. Some airlines have even added sections to their websites for updates relating to the MAX. News about the MAX is clearly not going away.

So, while airlines are reacting to Boeing’s announcement this week, it seems as though the reactions don’t have much hope or excitement behind them. Most airlines don’t seem to believe Boeing when they give a date. Everyone is more concerned with finding ways to replace the MAX than the idea that it could be back in the sky in just a few months.

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David C.

Funny, I was looking at some flights to Scotland in June with Westjet, and noticed that they were the Max aircraft. Because of that, I did not buy them and I was looking at alternate routes instead. Now that the MAX is going to be out of service until summer, I can go back to looking at the Westjet routes.

Russ

Once again, “proof read” is a good idea, and remember that “spell check” is not your friend! In the FlyDubai paragraph… “It’s family common knowledge” I think should be “.. fairly ..” ? Upshot is, Boeing is in a world of hurt. With the FAA saying that they will be certifying each airframe for return to service (the aircraft already delivered) and for each yet to be delivered, just where does the FAA have the knowledgeable manpower to cover over 900 aircraft expeditiously? Then there will be the issues re-starting the production line. Boeing says it is retaining all workers,… Read more »

TonytTDK

I read on these pages, that AIrbus was offering jobs to experienced Boeing assembly-line workers.?
Maybe, by July/Auguse/September, Boeing won’t even have enough experienced staff to be able to fully re-open the MAX FAL.?

David G Birmingham

Seriously……just scrap this junk. If Southwest, Ryanair and other budget airlines want to side with Boeing and put lives at risk on a very poorly engineered aircraft that is their business decision but I and many others won’t be chancing buying a flight with an airline which has more regard for cheap aircraft than traveller safety. Take note…

john

Take note Westjet.

Armand2REP

They are rebranding it so the public won’t know which 737 you are flying. Only the educated readers here would know the difference.

IanFromHKG

Armand2REP, what is your evidence for this? There is a B737-8200 “variant” of the MAX, but that “rebranding” refers to a higher-density version developed for Ryanair prior to the MAX grounding.

Harry Webb

I’m gland i’m not a Boeing salesman.

Dan

How much money are they spending forcing this junk plane on the public – the public that refuses to fly it. This company is beyond screwed up and out of touch. Airlines should just take a loss and plan futures without the MAX.

Peter Ehrler

The article is not very representative in terms of airlines affected. Flydubai will probably cancel its order of 250 aircraft. Malaysian Airlines will also probaly cancel its order of over 40 aircraft. LionAir who has been treated like a school boy by Mr Muilenburg and Boeing is seriously considering to cancel the order of over 400 aircraft and the list goes on. Smaller airlines like Samoa Airlines have cancelled their orders. As time goes on, more and more people will refuse to fly this “flying coffin” which will force airlines to rethink about the purchase. Name change will not do… Read more »

Pingy

Cancel … and then what? Wait 5 years for A320neo delivery?

Peter Ehrler

a delivery, even a late one, is better than a grounded “flying coffin”. Sometimes it is better to make a tough decision: scrap it and go back to the drawing board, which what they should have followed up back in 2011/12 and this mess would have been avoidable. This would have also been able for Boeing to catch up with the Airbus technology or even overtake them. But trying to update aircraft that are between 40 and 60 years old in design is not going to do the ob

John

This is what happens when you let MBA’s run a company instead of competent engineers. This same sort of issue originated out of Harvard as well: “placing shareholders first before operating the company properly.”

David

If ever there was proof that “cheats never prosper” then Boeing just proved it. Can they ever dig a bigger hole than this? The damage to the aviation industry is so far reaching the effects will linger well past this year for sure. It remains to be seen how long it will take for the public to be happy boarding a MAX.

Chris Parker

I predicted last autumn the plane would not fly well into 2020. Boeing seems to have started to be realistic. With all of the simulator training etc Sep/Oct is looking a likely possibility. This assumes that more faults are not found.

Greed and cutting corners comes back to bite you and Boeing is learning a lesson in currency it understands, $$$$. It is a pity 346 people had to die.

Chris Parker

I predicted last autumn the plane would not fly well into 2020. Boeing seems to have started to be realistic. With all of the simulator training etc Sep/Oct is looking a likely possibility. This assumes that more faults are not found.

Greed and cutting corners comes back tio bite you and Boeing is learning a lesson in currency it understands, $$$$. It is a pity 346 people had to die.

IanFromHKG

Chris makes a good point – Boeing’s now-acknowledged need for simulator training is going to delay entry back into service considerably, particularly since they have now clarified that this needs to be a MAX simulator.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/07/business/boeing-737-max-simulator-training.html
Although Boeing have hinted that the delayed return-to-service date is driven in part by the simulator training requirement, this is going to be a huge pinch point for airlines that don’t themselves own a MAX simulator (of which there are, I understand, less than 40 in the world).

Louis Ck

Funny enough, the max airplanes have distinctive engines. So for airlines such as Ryanair and others, it’s quite common to know which aircraft you’ll be flying. Even with the rebranding, it doesn’t take a genius (or maybe it does) to notice that the aircraft naming does not follow the conventional system…for example the Boeing 737-8200 or 737-8

Guilherme Braga

Here in Brazil, GOL already talks about compensation with Boeing.

Dan

I have few booked flights with GOL in April. All of them were with Max, but have been re-scheduled, some for early morning, instead of mi-day. Annoying.

Robert Braun

I’m looking forward to them getting back in the air. I’m a frequent flier with United, but I have flown on ten Max flights with Southwest Airlines in the days before the grounding. It is an amazingly quiet plane, while also a bit of eye candy, IMO. Boeing definitely dropped the ball, but I’m fully confident things will come back together for them.

Ricardo

I can’t wait to fly in the max 🤤😍

David

Seems to me people are catching up with the fact that the Max is an old design but with new engines in the wrong place and repaired with software.