American, Southwest Push Back Expected 737 Max Return to March

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8
Photo by AP Photo/David Koenig via Newscred

Airlines are pushing back the anticipated return of the grounded Boeing 737 Max aircraft to early March, forcing a number of additional schedule changes. 

American Airlines reports that it now anticipates that the aircraft will resume commercial service on March 5, 2020. Once the aircraft is certified, the airline said it expects to run exhibition flights for staff and invited guests only prior to that date. 

American said that it will run a formal schedule change to take into account the new anticipated return date on November 17, which will result in the cancellation of approximately 140 flights per day. At that time, customers who were previously booked on a 737 Max flight through March 4 will see their reservation updated on the airline’s website. Additional flights not operated on a 737 Max aircraft may also be cancelled to allow the airline to cover a Max route with a different aircraft. Following the aircraft’s return to service, American said that it plans to phase it into operation gradually over the course of a month, which may result in additional schedule changes. 

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Customers on cancelled flights who do not wish to rebook can request a refund at aa.com/refunds. There is still no word yet for the airline’s policy on those who do not wish to fly on the 737 Max once it returns to service; American said that it will release those details “in the coming weeks.”

Southwest Airlines has likewise said that it soon plans to proactively remove the 737 Max from its flight schedule through March 6, 2020, which the airline says will result in the cancellation of approximately 175 weekday flights. With each schedule revision, Southwest said it will contact customers affected by any changes directly. Southwest customers can also access instructions for finding the aircraft type that operates their flight at southwestaircommunity.com

In October, United Airlines had extended its 737 Max cancellations through January 6, 2020

The 737 Max remains grounded following a software issue that is believed to have caused a pair of deadly crashes on Indonesia’s Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines. Regulators are continuing to work on a fix to the issue. 

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