How The Boeing 737 MAX Grounding Is Affecting Carriers

Just last week, certain airlines based in the United States announced that they will be extending their grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX to March 2020. This will put the aircraft out of action for up to a year for at least some carriers. The suspension has undoubtedly caused operational and financial strain on carriers across the globe.

Boeing 737 MAX
The combination of two fatal accidents caused the grounding of the 737 MAX. Photo: Boeing

Costly situation

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines are two of the operators that decided to schedule services from March next year. Incidentally, between the two companies, a total of around $1 billion has been lost due to issues surrounding the 737 MAX.

Dallas-headquartered Southwest has 280 737 MAXs on order, of which only 31 had been delivered at the point of grounding. Meanwhile, American Airlines ordered 100 units from Boeing, receiving only 24 units so far. Both companies have had to cancel flights, implement alternative aircraft, and revise future plans.

Southwest announced that it had delayed the retirement of its older 737-700 aircraft due to the saga. It also previously shared that its Hawaii expansion plans had been delayed with the crisis not being resolved. Additionally, American Airlines canceled 9,500 flights solely in the third quarter of this year thanks to the grounding.

Alternative solutions

Today, Flight Global reports that Utair has revealed that it is leasing more 737s as the MAX delivery dates are continuing to be postponed. The Russian outfit is set to receive four 737-300s in order to fulfill the gap left by its younger sibling. The firm’s general director Andre Martirosov states that Utair is facing financial difficulty, with the outlook for the industry in general looking to remain problematic.

Boeing 737 MAX Southwest
Southwest Airlines is one of the Boeing 737 Max’s biggest customers. Photo: Southwest Airlines

Meanwhile, Aviation International News reports that Middle Eastern carriers are also feeling the pain of the 737 MAX suspension. Operators within the region have ordered 400 orders units between them.

Regional problems

There have already been cancellations of these orders from certain airlines. Flyadeal became the first major low-cost carrier in the area make a cancelation, dropping its request for 30 of the airliners. In addition, the carrier’s parent Saudi Arabian Airlines went to Boeing’s rival Airbus and upped its order for 100 of its aircraft. This includes 30 A320neos, which were requested at the Paris Air Show in June.

flydubai has also expressed its frustration with the whole ordeal. CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith shared his disappointment, stating that the grounding is impacting its development.

“Without any deliveries of new aircraft and no visibility of the timelines, we will see our operating fleet reduce in size to what it was in 2014,” said Al Ghaith, as reported by Arabian Business.

“This is disappointing. If the grounding continues until the end of the year, we expect our performance to continue to be impacted.”

Boeing 737 MAX
The aircraft has been grounded since March this year. Photo: Boeing

Passenger uncertainty

Even when the 737 MAX is back in operation, airlines face the massive task of helping passengers feel comfortable flying on board again. Therefore, airlines will have to invest in strategies to support this.

United Airlines realizes the importance of this task and is preparing initiatives ahead of its introduction of the aircraft next year. The carrier is preparing measures for passengers to rebook their flight if it happens to be on a 737 MAX. Even on the day of the flight, they will be able to change their mind at no extra cost. Furthermore, CEO Oscar Munoz recently said that his company will be extremely transparent if a flight is operated by one of these jets.

European carriers are also feeling the impact of the grounding. One of the airlines that has recently spoken about these issues is Ryanair. The Irish airline says that it doesn’t think it will receive more than 20 over the course of 2020, rather than the 58 that it expects. Furthermore, it doesn’t think that it will have any units at all before March.

Ryanair, Boeing 737 MAX, Base Closures
Ryanair expected to receive less than half of its orders. Photo: Ryanair

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

Altogether, the grounding has caused a global crisis for airlines. The issues won’t even start to resolve until the model is cleared to fly again.

A few days, Boeing said that it expects that the 737 MAX to be recertified by the FAA in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) says that it could be back in the skies by February. Until then, airlines will continue to try ways to cover their operations.

What do you think of the ways that airlines have been impacted by the Boeing 737 MAX groundings? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section