American Airlines has canceled Boeing 737 Max flights to the start of next year, indicating Boeing’s estimate that the troubled plane will fly before the end of the year was optimistic.
American, which is canceling 140 MAX flight per day, said it now expects the aircraft to return to service January 16.
“American Airlines anticipates that the impending software updates to the Boeing 737 MAX will lead to recertification of the aircraft later this year and resumption of commercial service in January 2020,’’ the airline said in a statement.
“We are in continuous contact with the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation.“
Regulators have yet to say when they will allow MAX back in the air with the FAA declining to give a timeline as recently as this week.
The global MAX fleet was grounded in March and has been mired in controversy since two crashes killed 346 people.
Southwest Airlines had already taken the MAX fleet out of its schedule until January 5 and United Airlines has done the same until December 19.
American said it expects to slowly phase in the MAX for commercial service and to increase flying of the aircraft through the month and into February.
It said additional refinements to its schedule may occur until February 12.
Customers booked on a MAX flight through to January 6 will be automatically accommodated on the same flights operated by a Boeing 737-800.
The majority of customers previously booked on a MAX flight between January 7 and January 15 will be accommodated on a different aircraft type.
The announcement comes as Southwest Airlines are suing Boeing for loss of wages totaling $US100 million as a result of the Boeing 737 MAX grounding.
The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Dallas in Texas Monday alleging Boeing deliberately misled the airline and its pilots about the 737 MAX.
Boeing said in a statement it was aware of the lawsuit and would vigorously defend against it.