Southwest Has Suspended 13 Routes Since Grounding of Boeing 737 MAX

Jul 2, 2019

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Since the Boeing 737 MAX was first taken out of service in the spring, Southwest has had to temporarily suspend more than a dozen nonstop routes as it grapples with the ongoing grounding of the plane.

Flight schedule data from Diio by Cirium shows that the low-cost giant has dropped at least 13 nonstop routes since the plane was grounded in March, and Southwest confirmed to TPG that the routes have been suspended as a result of the MAX situation.

With 34 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in its fleet, Southwest is the plane’s largest operator in the US.  The jets are grounded worldwide as Boeing works to address software issues suspected of contributing to two fatal crashes.

Southwest, similar to other carriers that fly the jet, has had to reduce its daily schedule by more than a hundred flights a day as it tries to account for the unexpected grounding of nearly three dozen of its planes.  Some routes have been suspended altogether to allow the company to maintain its schedule.

Related: American Airlines Suspends First Route Due to Boeing 737 MAX Grounding

The broader issue came to light on Monday, when American revealed it would temporarily suspend one of its two routes to Oakland. That route — American’s once-daily flight to Dallas/Fort Worth —  marked the first route the airline has had to put on hiatus because of the three-month-long grounding.

Southwest has had a different experience. Since it runs more point-to-point flights than hub-and-spoke carriers like American and United, it has a higher number of lower-frequency nonstop routes that are vulnerable to changes from the 737 MAX grounding.

On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on one of those routes, Southwest’s service between Pittsburgh (PIT) and Los Angeles (LAX), which has temporarily been put on hold until the MAX is again cleared for takeoff.

TPG decided to take a closer look, and — based on flight schedule data from Diio by Cirium — discovered that 12 other Southwest routes have been suspended in the months since the MAXes were first grounded.

The suspended routes were not necessarily scheduled to be operated with Southwest’s 737 MAXes. Instead, it’s possible that Southwest used other 737 variants on those routes, but opted to pull them off to fill in the gaps created by the MAX elsewhere in its network.

The routes that are temporarily off Southwest’s schedule are:

  • Albany, New York (ALB) – Denver (DEN)
  • Austin (AUS) – San Francisco (SFO)
  • Boston (BOS) – Atlanta (ATL)
  • Boston (BOS) – Kansas City (MCI)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Tampa, Florida (TPA)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Pittsburgh (PIT)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Omaha, Nebraska (OMA)
  • Oakland, California (OAK) – Newark, N.J., (EWR)
  • Oakland, California (OAK) – Indianapolis (IND)
  • Oakland, California (OAK) – Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP)
  • Oakland, California (OAK) – San Antonio (SAT)
  • San Antonio (SAT) – Orlando, Florida (MCO)
  • Birmingham, Alabama (BHM) – Las Vegas (LAS)

Source: Diio by Cirium, Southwest Airlines

Contributing: Edward Russell, TPG.

Featured photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

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