Southwest Airlines has delayed the anticipated re-entry of its Boeing 737 MAX. The airline said the decision was made after Boeing was unable to provide concrete timelines for necessary fixes.
Today, Southwest Airlines provided an update to its 737 MAX 8 service page, in which it told its customers that the reintroduction of the aircraft would now be delayed. The airline said:
“We previously revised our flight schedule by removing the MAX through Jan. 5, 2020 to offer reliability to our operation and stability for our Customers. With the timing of the MAX’s return-to-service still uncertain, we are extending the MAX-related flight schedule adjustments through Feb. 8, 2020.”
Southwest Airlines said that a number of passengers had already booked flights onboard its 737 MAX services in 2020. However, the airline said that it would work to accommodate those passengers to facilitate their travel requirements.
Delaying services further
The 737 MAX was due to operate again at the start of 2020. But, since Boeing is still undergoing the final improvements needed for the model to operate again, nothing is yet finalised.
Southwest Airlines has reasoned that changing the date of operation for the Boeing 737 MAX at this stage would be better than doing it later in the game. It said:
“By proactively removing the MAX from scheduled service, we can reduce last-minute flight cancellations and unexpected disruptions to our Customers’ travel plans.”
The news of its delayed returns likely comes off the back of forecasts from the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA). Southwest Airlines pilots first predicted that the grounding could last until March next year. However, they recently changed their verdict.
On 14th October, they said that the Boeing 737 MAX was unlikely to re-enter service until February 2020 despite Southwest and other airlines saying different.
Southwest Airlines is now following on in the same direction as Air Canada. The Canadian carrier has now scheduled the Boeing 737 MAX into service from 14th February 2020 onwards, in order to provide more stability for its customers.
It might not be long until other airlines as well, like United Airlines, also change their decisions for 2020.
Is there a fix?
The exclusion of the 737 MAX from its service has already cost Southwest Airlines members in excess of $100 million. On 7th October 2019, Southwest Airlines filed a lawsuit against Boeing for the damages.
After nearly seven months of grounding, we hope that Boeing is able to provide a solution soon.
Continuing with utmost scrutiny
Despite the silence on the deadline, Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are taking every precaution to ensure that the process moves forward in the best way possible. On 10th October, the FAA said:
“Today’s unprecedented U.S. safety record was built on the willingness of aviation professionals to embrace hard lessons and to seek continuous improvement. We welcome this scrutiny and are confident that our openness to these efforts will further bolster aviation safety worldwide.”
Do you think the Boeing 737 MAX grounding will end in February 2020? Let us know in the comments!