Which Airlines Are Most Affected by Boeing 737 Max 9 Grounding?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Saturday ordered the immediate and temporary grounding of certain Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S. territory. The move comes after a portion of an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 blew out during a flight from Portland International Airport en route to Ontario, CA, Friday night.

About the incident: About six minutes into the flight, according to the Seattle Times, at an altitude of 16,000 and a speed of 444 mph, a piece of the Boeing 737 Max 9 fuselage blew out. No one was sitting in the immediate window seat but a mother and child—who had his shirt ripped off from the depressurization—were in the middle and aisle seats; they were quickly escorted to other seats by the flight crew. The plane descended to 10,000 feet before making an emergency landing back at Portland’s airport, just 20 minutes after taking off. All 171 guests and six crewmembers were unharmed.

Later that night, Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci announced that the company would be grounding all 65 of its 737 Max 9s. “Each aircraft will be returned to service only after completion of full maintenance and safety inspections. We anticipate all inspections will be completed in the next few days,” he said.

As per the FAA’s Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD), operators are required to inspect affected aircraft before they may resume flight. The required inspections will take around four to eight hours per aircraft and will affect approximately 171 airplanes globally.

In the U.S., only Alaska Airlines and United Airlines operate the Boeing 737 Max 9. United has 79 of the aircraft. These two airlines operate nearly two-thirds of the 215 Max 9 aircraft in service around the world, but other operators include Aeromexico (19), Air Tanzania (one), Copa Airlines (29), Corendon Dutch Airlines (two), flydubai (three), Icelandair (three), Lion Air (three), SCAT Airlines (five) and Turkish Airlines (five). According to FlightAware, United has 220 canceled flights Monday, while Alaska has 141. Another 74 and 38, respectively, are delayed.

This grounding comes just a few years after the large portions of the Boeing 737 Max line were grounded after two fatal crashes, both involving the Max 8. The FAA grounded the MAX in March 2019 and lifted the order in November 2020.

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