United Airlines hopes to fly the 737 MAX again by summer

Dec 20, 2019

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United Airlines hopes Boeing’s beleaguered 737 MAX will be flying again by next summer, and has pulled the aircraft from its schedules until June.

The Star Alliance carrier pushed the MAX’s return to June 4, United said Friday. This is three months later than it previously hoped, and two months later than when its peers American Airlines and Southwest Airlines aim to return the jets to the skies.

“Moving the return to service date back more than just a month — as we have done previously throughout 2019 — allows us to have more certainty by providing our customers and our operation a firmer and more definitive timeline,” United spokesman Frank Benenati told TPG. “With this new date now further in the future, we will better help our customers by reducing the number of our passengers we need to reassign to a new aircraft or rebook on a different flight.”

United will cancel up to 108 flights a day through June as a result of the continued grounding.

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Boeing is still waiting on the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other global regulators to re-certify the MAX. As recently as November, it hoped that sign off would come this month but in the past week confirmed that this will likely not occur until the new year.

On Monday, the planemaker took the extraordinary step of suspending 737 MAX production until the jet is re-certified.

“The FAA and global regulatory authorities determine the timeline for certification and return to service,” Boeing said in a statement following the suspension decision. “We remain fully committed to supporting this process. It is our duty to ensure that every requirement is fulfilled, and every question from our regulators answered.”

United operated 14 737 MAX 9 jets — the least of the three U.S. operators — when the aircraft was grounded in March. It had hoped to have 30 MAXes in its fleet by year end.

Featured image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

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