United Airlines has become the latest carrier to predict an early 2020 return for the grounded 737 Max aircraft as regulators continue to work on software fixes over an issue that is said to have caused a pair of deadly crashes on Indonesia’s Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines.
Reuters reports that the company has extended its cancellations of Boeing 737 Max flights until January 6, 2020, accounting for more than 8,000 flights until then.
Last week American Airlines said that it expects the grounded aircraft to return to service January 16, 2020. The airline also released a number of updates for customers on cancelled flights that had been due to operate on the aircraft, although it did not release details on policies for travelers concerned about flying on the aircraft once it is cleared for service. The airline said that it will release those policies and procedures “in the coming weeks.”
Previously, Southwest Airlines had cancelled its 737 Max flights through January 5. Since the grounding of the aircraft, Southwest has been forced to eliminate more than 30,000 scheduled flights, reducing passenger service by 8 percent by the end of 2019, according to statistics cited by the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA), which is suing Boeing over the 737 Max.
Regulators are continuing to work on software updates to the Max’s flight control computers, including a reported new system in which two flight computers would work together, with the aim of eliminating errors stemming from possible chip malfunctions.