Speaking with CNBC on Thursday, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said that there’s no assumption all passengers will feel comfortable flying on a Boeing 737 MAX plane anytime soon. The comments come days after United announced the cancellation of 1,290 flights that would have been flown by its 14 MAX models through August 3rd. To date 3,000 United flights have been cancelled due to the 737 MAX grounding.
The remarks were made on May 30th at New York’s La Guardia airport – the location of United’s new terminal. During the interview Munoz made the point that clear and transparent communication was paramount in properly re-introducing the aircraft back into service. He went on to say:
“The first and foremost objective is to not assume everyone will want to fly, or assume everyone will get over it…We’re going to do this in a safe manner.”
Below is the full interview between Munoz and CNBC. In the interview Munoz also comments on emotional support animals, which recently made news with Delta airlines.
Not just empty words
Consistent with Thursday’s remarks, Munoz said last month that United would not be charging passengers for switching flights in order to avoid the 737 MAX. Southwest Airlines, with its fleet of 34 MAX planes, also made the same commitment.
On May 22nd Munoz also made news when he said that he would be on the airline’s first 737 MAX flight once approval has been given by the FAA. In a statement to shareholders at the airline’s annual meeting, Munoz said:
“Just because somebody says it’s safe, you as the flying public aren’t just going to get on the aircraft,”
The MAX in United’s fleet
United Airlines has in its possession 14 737 MAX 9 aircraft. However, this is just a fraction of the total. In fact, 71 of the MAX 9 variant are still on order, as well as 100 MAX 10s.
In total, around 3,000 United flights have been cancelled to date, as the airline had been depending on the planes for its numerous short-haul domestic routes. Instead, the aircraft remain in storage, unused. Furthermore, the numerous aircraft United has on order are stuck at Boeing’s factory facilities in Washington. In fact, 16 MAX aircraft are set to join the fleet in the second half of 2019.
The grounding has so far taken a significant financial toll on Indonesian airline Lion Air. On May 30th the airline also made news when its Operations Director said the losses amount to $20m. United Airlines have yet to release or announce any financial figures with regards to the cost of the MAX grounding.
While American Airlines’ fleet of 737 MAX aircraft also remain grounded, it has gone ahead with scheduling the aircraft for September and December flights. The flights head to destinations of St. Maarten in the Caribbean as well as Medellin in Colombia.
The question of the day…month…year
The question that we commonly ask at the end of our 737 MAX articles is “would you get back on this plane after the grounding?” Today I won’t ask that. Instead, I’ll tell you what our readers are saying. Below are the results to our Facebook poll: