United Airlines Suspends First Route as 737 MAX Cancellations Mount

Jul 29, 2019

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United Airlines will suspend service to Leon/Guanajuato in Mexico from Chicago in September, saying it is halting the service because of the ongoing Boeing 737 MAX grounding.

The Star Alliance carrier will end its daily Leon/Guanajuato (BJX) flight from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) on Sept. 2, United confirms and Diio by Cirium schedules show. The airline has operated the route with an Embraer 175 since October 2018.

United spokesman Jonathan Guerin says the move was made to “help mitigate issues resulting from the grounding of the MAX aircraft and better optimize our resources to address customer needs in markets served from Chicago.” He does not say when the route will resume.

The airline will likely redeploy the E175 used for the Leon-Chicago route in markets directly impacted by the MAX grounding.

United operated 14 737 MAX 9 aircraft when the type was grounded in March. The company has removed the aircraft from its schedules through Nov. 3.

Related: Bye, Bye Continental: United Officially Drops Continental Name

The grounding has taken less of a toll on United than fellow US operators American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. American has suspended one of its routes to Oakland (OAK) in California and delayed the retirement of some Boeing 757 aircraft. The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier operated 24 737 MAX 8 when the grounding occurred.

Southwest is ending service to Newark Liberty (EWR) and is retaining some 737-700s due for retirement this year to mitigate the impact of the grounding. The Dallas-based airline had 34 737-8s in its fleet in March.

While American, like United, has removed the MAX from schedules through November, Southwest has taken the aircraft out until Jan. 5. Executives say that the airline needs one to two months to return the aircraft to service once the grounding is lifted.

Related: Southwest Has Suspended 13 Routes Since Grounding of Boeing 737 MAX

United has been forced to cut its capacity growth plans for 2019 due to the impact of the Boeing 737 MAX grounding. It now expects capacity to grow 3-4% year-over-year, up to two-points lower than its initial forecast of up 4-6% year-over-year.

The carrier will continue to serve Leon/Guanajuato from Houston Intercontinental (IAH), Guerin says.

United’s capacity to Mexico is scheduled to shrink 4.3% year-over-year in 2019, Diio data shows.

Featured image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

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