American Airlines CEO: 'Politics' May Be Factor In Clearing 737 MAX to Fly
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker told employees at a town hall meeting last week that the airline may have to wait until October before it brings Boeing 737 MAXes back to its gates.
According to CNBC, which reviewed audio of the meeting, Parker said that American would likely announce such a move in the coming weeks if it becomes necessary. The airline had previously planned to resume 737 MAX service on Sept. 3. Its schedule shows that the world's biggest airline is making a large bet on the MAX returning to service in September.
The global fleet of 737 MAX aircraft has been grounded since March following two fatal crashes of Boeing's new workhorse, which left 346 dead.
Boeing has been working with regulators, airlines and other stakeholders to update the aircraft's flight-control software, addressing a system that is believed to have contributed to both disasters.
CNBC reported that Parker told his employees that an "absolute software fix" is close to being certified, but said he believes the Federal Aviation Administration is hesitant to certify it before other regulators are ready to do the same. "I think as much as anything now it may be politics," Parker said, according to CNBC. "I don’t think the FAA wants to be alone in doing this."
Even if the FAA clears MAXes for flights later this summer, airlines will need time to re-train their crews on the updated systems. American will also begin scheduling personnel to work flights in September as early as next month. Taken together, those constraints could both contribute to American to further delaying the MAX's return to service.