This airline is flying 5 employee-only 737 MAX flights to nowhere

Nov 29, 2020

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American Airlines plans to operate five employee-only flights on its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in preparation for the aircraft’s return to service.

In order to restore employee confidence in the beleaguered aircraft, American said it will operate the employee-only flights, as first reported by View From the Wing.

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American sent out the following memo to employees:

“We know that restoring our customers’ confidence in the 737 MAX starts with ensuring our own team members are comfortable. That’s why, leading up to the aircraft’s return to scheduled service Dec. 29, we’ll operate five 737 MAX flights, exclusively for team members.”

The flights will take course over a period of five days between Dec. 3 and Dec. 17. More specifically, the flights will take off from three AA hubs and spend about one hour in the air before returning to the same airport.

Here’s the information on each of the flights:

Date of flight Airport Time
Dec. 3 Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) 1 p.m. CT
Dec. 8 Miami (MIA) 3 p.m. ET
Dec. 9 New York LaGuardia (LGA) 1:30 p.m. ET
Dec. 15 New York LaGuardia (LGA) 2 p.m. ET
Dec. 17 Miami (MIA) 1 p.m. ET

American told TPG that team members can register for the flights. Seats are available on a first come, first served basis.

“Safety is our No. 1 priority at American,” American said in a statement to TPG. “It’s at the center of every decision we make. It is with this standard and commitment that we will return the Boeing 737 MAX to service now that the aircraft has been recertified by the FAA.”

On Nov. 18, the Federal Aviation Administration recertified the Boeing 737 MAX, 20 months after it was grounded following two fatal crashes.

Before the 737 MAX is allowed to return to service, however, the aircraft must undergo certain modifications and the pilots have to undergo new training. The fixes largely focus on the software of the flight control systems, which were the causes of the two downed jets — a Lion Air 737 MAX 9 in late 2018 and an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 in March 2019. Combined, the two crashes took 346 lives.

“I am 100% comfortable with my family flying on it this morning,” said FAA administrator Steve Dickson in a video message detailing the ungrounding order. A certified pilot, Dickson underwent the required training and flew a MAX jet to review the changes in September.

Of the U.S. carriers with 737 MAX aircraft in their fleets, American Airlines is set to be the first to reintroduce it to service. The airline will be the first in the U.S. to resume passenger flights on the 737 MAX on Dec. 29 between Miami (MIA) and New York-LaGuardia (LGA).

Related: The Boeing 737 MAX is about ready to return to US skies. Will it make it for the holidays?

American flew 24 of the MAX aircraft when it was grounded worldwide in March 2019. It still has another 76 of the aircraft on order and is set to take delivery of up to eight by the end of the year.

Featured photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

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