American Airlines Pushes Back 737 MAX Service To January 2020

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The saga of the 737 MAX aircraft continues as American Airlines confirms that it now doesn’t expect the aircraft to be returning to its operations before the middle of January next year.

All Boeing 737 MAX aircraft were grounded on 13 March 2019 following the second fatal disaster involving the airline in under 6 months and since then the news surrounding the 737 MAX project has been anything but positive.

And all through the unraveling crisis we’ve continually heard about how Boeing apparently cut corners at every opportunity and looked to squeeze every bit of profit it could out of the 737 MAX project at the expense of prudence.

American Airlines 737 MAX 8
Image courtesy of Airbus777 via Flickr

American Airlines has appeared to be the most bullish of the airlines that operate a version of the 737 MAX throughout the grounding and the airline’s CEO Doug Parker has repeated the same mantra at every opportunity:

“We remain confident that the impending software updates, along with the new training elements Boeing is developing for the MAX, will lead to recertification of the aircraft soon. We have been in continuous contact with the FAA, Department of Transportation (DOT), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), other regulatory authorities and are pleased with the progress so far.”

Unfortunately for Parker, he has had to trot out this line a lot more often than I suspect he would have liked as American Airlines has had to push back the anticipated return date of the 737 MAX time and time again.

In April American Airlines was expecting the MAX to be back by 19 August, in June the expected return date was pushed back to 3 September, in July we were told that the aircraft was now not expected back in action before 2 November, at the beginning of September American admitted that the MAX wouldn’t be flying before 3 December and now, today, American Airlines has said that 16 January 2020 is the new expected return date for the 737 MAX.

American Airlines 737 MAX 8
Image courtesy of Airbus777 via Flickr

What Customers Need To Know (Per American)

  • Customers booked on a MAX through Jan. 6: All customers who were booked previously on a MAX will be automatically accommodated on the same flights operated by a 737-800 with the same seat configuration. No additional rebooking will be required.
  • Customers booked on a MAX from Jan. 7 through Jan. 15: The majority of these customers will be accommodated on the same flight operated by a different aircraft type, which may include a 737-800 or an Airbus aircraft. Beginning Oct. 13, American’s Reservations and Sales team will contact affected customers who are impacted by any potential flight cancellations. Customers who booked through a travel agent will be contacted by their agency directly.
  • Beginning Jan. 16: American expects to slowly phase in the MAX for commercial service and will increase flying on the aircraft throughout the month and into February.

Bottom Line

The only real conclusion I can reach from all of this is that American Airlines has absolutely no idea when the 737 MAX will be certified as safe to fly and that it keeps announcing tentative return dates more out of hope than anything else….and the same has to be said about Southwest and United who also seem utterly clueless.

Personally speaking, I’m not in the slightest bit disappointed to see the 737 MAX’s return delayed once again as I’m in no hurry to fly in the aircraft any time soon, but all these rolling cancellations can’t be doing much to improve American’s remarkably poor financial record.

I wonder if this will be yet another nail in the coffin that so many commentators already have Doug Parker lying in?