Many predicted that Boeing would have gotten its act together by now and that 737 Max aircraft would be safe to fly. It's still up in the air exactly when that will be, but there is hope for the busy U.S. summer travel season.
Southwest Airlines said Thursday it has taken the grounded Boeing 737 Max out of its schedule until early June and is dropping more than 8 percent of its planned flights as a result.
With the moves, Southwest joined rivals in acknowledging that the plane won’t be ready before the start of the peak summer travel season.
Southwest said that without the planes, it will drop about 330 flights each weekday from its normal schedule of about 4,000 daily flights. That is a far higher number of cancellations than at other airlines, which don’t own as many Maxes.
Southwest had previously removed the Max from its schedule through April 13. Now it won’t use the plane through June 6. American Airlines and United Airlines, the other two U.S. carriers that own Maxes, had already dropped the plane from their plans until June.
Dallas-based Southwest is the world’s biggest operator of Boeing 737s, with about 750 in its fleet. It has 34 grounded Max jets — more than any other carrier — and expected to get more by now, but Boeing halted deliveries in April, a month after the plane was grounded worldwide.
Southwest said it is continuing to get information about the plane’s status from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Chicago-based Boeing is making changes in flight-control software and other systems on the plane after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people. The aircraft maker faces several more steps before winning FAA approval to resume flights.
Photo credit: A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max aircraft at at Renton Municipal Airport in Renton, Wash. Southwest Airlines said Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, that it has taken the grounded Boeing 737 Max out of its schedule until early June and is dropping more than 8% of its planned flights as a result. Ted S. Warren / Southwest