United Airlines cancels 3,500 flights in 2020 as it extends 737 MAX grounding

Nov 15, 2019

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United Airlines has joined its peers in pulling the Boeing 737 MAX from schedules through March.

The Chicago-based carrier has removed the troubled jet through March 4, United said Friday. It will cancel as many as 93 flights a day due to the continued grounding with the cancellation of nearly 3,500 flights in 2020 forecast.

United had previously removed the MAX through January, so no further impact is expected on the busy Christmas and New Years holiday travel season.

Fellow U.S. MAX operators American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have already removed the aircraft into March.

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Boeing hopes the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, and other global regulators, will re-certify the MAX in December, allowing for it to return to commercial service in January. However that timeline is conditional on the planemaker completing four major milestones required by authorities.

The 737 MAX’s return to U.S. skies could slide further into 2020 if the FAA does not re-certify the aircraft by year’s end.

Getting the MAX back into the air is only the first step in its return. A skeptical public will have to be convinced that the aircraft is safe, with many travelers saying they plan to avoid the jet — at least initially.

Related: United CEO says flyers will need convincing to fly the 737 MAX again

Boeing and the FAA “saying that it is safe is not enough,” United CEO Oscar Munoz said in October on restoring passengers’ confidence in the MAX. “We will rebook you, so you are comfortable flying it.”

United flew 14 737 MAX 9 jets prior to the grounding this March.

Featured image by Angelo DeSantis / Getty Images.

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