According to Routes Online, American Airlines has put the 737 MAX into September and December 2019 flight schedules. This includes daily service between Miami and Medellin, Colombia in September and also daily service between Miami and St. Maarten starting December. The move was made despite any firm timeline as to when the 737 MAX will gain recertification.
The actual routes
Here’s what we know about the new 737 MAX routes:
AA1127/1128: Miami (MIA) to Medellin (MDE) goes by AA1127 and departs at 10:55am daily. The total flight time is 3 hours and 39 minutes. The return flight, Medellin to Miami, is flight AA1128. It departs Medellin at 2:24pm and has a total flight time of 3 hours and 37 minutes. High-speed wifi and in-seat power are available onboard.
AA1136: The other route is Miami to St. Maarten (SXM). Outbound from Miami the flight is AA1136 and departs at 10:56am. The total flight time is 3 hours and 1 minute. The return flight from St. Maarten to Miami is AA1136, departing at 3:57pm with a total flight time of 3 hours and 32 minutes. High-speed wifi and in-seat power are available onboard.
This flight to St. Maarten is one of two daily flights. The other is operated using a Boeing 757. (and no, we also don’t know why the outbound and inbound flights have identical flight numbers!)
Is September too soon?
There’s a phrase that comes from the 1989 sports movie “Field of Dreams” that says “If you build it, they will come,”. It’s meant to be a phrase symbolic of optimism and wishful thinking. So, in the case of American Airlines and the 737 MAX – if you schedule it, will it fly? Well, no one is certain of that yet.
Last month we wrote about how American Airlines was hoping to fly their new 737 MAX aircraft by August. This may still be a possibility. However, it’s much easier to add in extra capacity than to cancel flights and rebook passengers if re-entry into service doesn’t happen by then. In fact, we recently wrote about how the FAA are expecting to have the 737 MAX re-enter service possibly as soon as late June.
This early estimate came following a Federal Aviation Administration briefing with the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization. However, we also know that no one on the regulatory side wants to rush into a decision they may regret later.
As we reported last week, Daniel Elwell, acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, told reporters that there is much testing to be done, saying to reporters:
“If it takes a year to find everything we need to give us the confidence to lift the order [to ground the planes], then so be it… We will not lift the prohibition until it’s safe to do so.”
Until recertification happens, airlines will continue spending money to store and maintain their 737 MAX planes. If you somehow end up taking a winter vacation trip from Miami to St. Maarten on American Airlines, would you choose to fly on the 737 MAX 8, or would you opt to take the much older 757?