United Airlines Joins Peers, Pushes Boeing 737 MAX Return into September

Jun 26, 2019

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United Airlines has removed the Boeing 737 MAX from schedules through Labor Day weekend, joining peers American Airlines and Southwest Airlines in extending cancellations.

The Chicago-based carrier announced Wednesday that it has removed the aircraft from schedules through Sept. 3. The move will result in roughly 60 cancellations daily in August, or 1,900 flights for the month.

United joins American and Southwest is cancelling 737 MAX flights through Labor Day as a return-to-service date for the aircraft remains elusive. Just today, the US Federal Aviation Administration found an issue affecting pilots’ ability to recover from a runaway stabilizer trim.

The MAX was grounded in March after two aircraft crashed during a five-month period. Investigations have focused on issues with the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS.

United chief executive Oscar Munoz told reporters in May that the carrier’s top priority was getting the aircraft back in service safely, but he noted that the airline would seek compensation from Boeing for the cost of the grounding.

The airline operated 14 737 MAX 9 aircraft when the type was grounded, the smallest of the three US operators. It has not provided guidance on the cost of the grounding but reduced its annual capacity growth forecast by a percentage point to up 4-5% year-over-year as a result.

American, which operated 24 737 MAX 8 aircraft in March, has said the grounding will cost it roughly $350 million in pre-tax income through Aug. 19.

“We have not projected that out from [Aug. 19], but it would have a negative impact on American,” said Robert Isom, president of the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier, at a financial conference in May.

United’s fleet plan calls for 30 737-9s by the end of 2019, however, it is unclear when Boeing will be able to resume deliveries.

Featured photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

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