More delays ahead: Boeing issues new 737 MAX guidance

Jan 21, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

It now looks like Boeing’s troubled 737 MAX won’t be cleared to fly until this summer.

The manufacturer said on Tuesday it was advising its customers and suppliers that it now expects the MAX to be grounded until “mid-2020.”

The update comes just as all three U.S. operators of the jet — American, United and Southwest — had put the MAX back into their expected schedules in June, just the latest change after repeated delays while awaiting recertification of the plane by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Now, with Tuesday’s announcement by Boeing, those updated schedules are again in question.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news.

Boeing addressed the mounting uncertainty about the MAX’s expected return to service.

“This updated estimate is informed by our experience to date with the certification process,” Boeing said in a statement. “Returning the MAX safely to service is our number one priority, and we are confident that will happen. We acknowledge and regret the continued difficulties that the grounding of the 737 MAX has presented to our customers, our regulators, our suppliers, and the flying public.”

The new guidance about the MAX’s return-to-service timeline is the first such update to come under the leadership of David Calhoun, who assumed Boeing’s chief executive role last week.

As recently as November, the company’s previous leader maintained that the jets would fly again in early 2020. Though the Federal Aviation Administration has not committed to a specific schedule for recertifying the jet, the regulator did say last month that there was no chance the MAX would fly again in 2019.

In response to Boeing’s statement Tuesday, the regulator issued its own, and is still holding out on defining a timeline for when the MAX might return to the skies.

“The agency is following a thorough, deliberate process to verify that all proposed modifications to the Boeing 737 MAX meet the highest certification standards,” the FAA statement said. “We continue to work with other safety regulators to review Boeing’s work as the company conducts the required safety assessments and addresses all issues that arise during testing.”

Related: ‘This is a crucial time for Boeing,’ new CEO says on first day

While airlines have not yet announced any updates to their latest return-to-service schedules for the MAX, further delays seem likely after the latest Boeing update.

“Today’s Boeing announcement essentially trashes the summer flight schedules for 737 MAX customers and, in turn, their passengers,” Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and president of Atmosphere Research said in an email.

Based on Boeing’s guidance, he added, U.S. operators now likely won’t get their MAXes in the air again until August or September.

But, he said, the timing of the announcement does offer a small silver lining for airlines and passengers.

“It’s better for 737 MAX operators to get this news now, bad as it is, because it gives them time to adjust their flight schedules and either swap aircraft for flights scheduled to use the MAX to another type of plane, or move passengers from flights that were planned to use the MAX to flights using other types of equipment,” Harteveldt said. “If this announcement were made in March or April, things would be more chaotic for airlines and summer travelers.”

Related: Study: Boeing must be ‘hypertransparent’ to win back trust on 737 MAX

Featured photo by David Ryder/Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.