Southwest Airlines has become the latest American airline to push its Boeing 737 MAX scheduling to November. The news comes as the aircraft enters its fifth month of being grounded.
Southwest Airlines was initially the hardest hit when the Boeing 737 MAX was grounded. The American low-cost carrier was operating the world’s biggest fleet of the MAX. As a result, overnight the carrier effectively lost 31 aircraft. The carrier estimates it cannot operate 180 flights per day due to the MAX ban, however, it would rather cancel the flights now, than at short notice.
Huge Boeing 737 MAX customer
Southwest Airlines is a huge Boeing 737 MAX. customer. In fact, the American low-cost carrier ordered 280 of the aircraft. This makes Southwest Airlines the largest single customer of the MAX family. As a result of the huge aircraft order, Southwest has the biggest delivered fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. This stands at 31 delivered aircraft.
As such, losing out on the MAX is costing Southwest about 180 flights per day. Assuming the carrier operates 4,000 flights per day, this accounts for 4.5% of all flights. As such, Southwest likely hasn’t taken the decision to extend the cancellation of 737 MAX flights by a whole month lightly.
Southwest Airlines is now the third carrier in the United States to push the resumption of 737 MAX services to November. United Airlines was the first to make the decision, followed closely by American Airlines. The decision to push the reentry to service likely wasn’t made without some guidance.
While Boeing refuses to elaborate on a timescale to the general public, it is likely that they are being held to account by the airlines. As such, while the resumption of flights in the schedule of airlines may be our best guide, it cannot be relied upon. We have already had to report that it has been pushed back several times.
What is next for the MAX?
Boeing is busy working away at a software fix to the Boeing 737 MAX. This has yet to be sent to regulators for verification to the best of Simple Flying’s knowledge. After this, it is up to individual regulators to approve the MAX as airworthy. It is important that the MAX ban is lifted simultaneously, however, whether this will happen is yet to be seen.
It is unknown how quickly services would resume with carriers. Some airlines have said they would fly executives in the aircraft first to prove their trust in it. I would image that airlines will try and get the aircraft back in the air fairly swiftly as an aircraft on the ground is not making money. Whether passengers will be happy flying on the MAX when it returns is yet to be seen.
Would you fly on the Boeing 737 MAX when it is recertified? Let us know in the comments!