United Airlines Pushes Back 737 MAX Re-entry To Service Again

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On Friday, United Airlines made an announcement that the Boeing 737 MAX would not be on its flight schedules until November 3rd. According to Reuters, this new extension represents 2,100 cancellations in September as well as 2,900 in October. United had previously excluded their fleet of 14 737 MAX jets from its flight schedule through to early September.

United has a fleet of 14 737 MAX with more on order, unable to enter service. Photo: Flickr/Colin Brown Photography

In a statement to Reuters, a spokesperson said:

“We’ll continue to monitor the regulatory process and nimbly make the necessary adjustments to our operation and our schedule,”

United's CEO will fly on the Boeing 7373 MAx
United’s CEO has said that he will be the first to board on the 737 MAX once it has been given approval to fly again. Photo: United Airlines

United Airlines not alone

United is by no means alone in this issue. Many airlines have written-in their “new” 737 MAX aircraft into future schedules only to revise those schedules again and again. Southwest Airlines for example, is cancelling their MAX flights through October 1st.

In late June, American Airlines seemed confident that the aircraft would be able to fly in September. It will be interesting to see if and when they will need to follow United’s lead and push back another month or two. Furthermore, American is also  expecting to suffer a negative impact of up to $183 million USD due to the grounding, according to Flight Global.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Norwegian is also expecting that their fleet of 18 MAX aircraft will return to service come October. Until then, however, the grounding has so far cost the airline $81 million USD.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary made comments regarding challenges his airline faces, saying the following to Reuters:

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“The challenge for us is that we need to see the plane back flying by the end of September, October, November at the latest, so as not to disrupt our growth for the summer of 2020,”

Despite the current worldwide grounding, IAG is intending to purchase 200 737MAX aircraft. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

At least September

United’s decision comes after a June 27th announcement by Boeing saying that it would likely take until September at the earliest to fix a fresh flaw in the grounded 737 MAX. The flaw was found by the Federal Aviation Administration last month. However, some believe that the jet will not fly commercially before the end of the year.

According to Reuters, each aircraft is likely to need between 100 to 150 hours of maintenance and preparation before flying. Furthermore, this can only be done once the ban comes to an end. New pilot training will also take time and airline resources.

Deliveries cannot be made until regulators can approve the MAX’s return to service. Until then, they will continue to take up parking spaces at Boeing’s Renton, WA plant.

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What do you think these airlines should do? Is there any way out of this mess that doesn’t involve waiting for Boeing and the FAA to find and test a fix to their problems? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment!

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