American takes 737 MAX out of schedule until June

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January 15, 2020
MAX American June
Photo: Bro Dude52/Wikimedia Commons

American Airlines has joined competitor United in taking the Boeing 737 MAX out of its schedule until June.

It had previously canceled MAX services to April 6 but now says it does not expect the jet to resume scheduled commercial services until June 4.

The decision affects about 140 flights per day.

It said it was in continuous contact with Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration and its decision was based on the latest guidance.

READ: American staff gain $US30 million from 737 MAX deal

“On Jan. 19, American will run a formal schedule change, and customers who were previously booked on a MAX through June 3 will see their reservation updated on aa.com,’’ it said.

“Additional refinements to our schedule through June 3 will also occur in February 2020.”

United made a decision in December to take the MAX out of its schedule until June to give it more certainty by providing customers and its operations “a firmer and more definitive timeline”.

American will initially run flights for staff and invited guests once the plane is recertified and plans to gradually phase in the MAX on commercial services throughout June.

It has not ruled out “additional refinements” to its MAX schedule.

The FAA still has not given a date as to when the MAX will be recertified after the global fleet was grounded in March 2019 after two fatal crashes.

Airlines and Boeing will need to feed into the system not just the planes that were initially grounded but about 400 jets built since.

Boeing decided late last year to suspend MAX production from January 2020.

It cited factors such as uncertainty about the timing and conditions of a return to service and global training approvals as well as the need to prioritize the delivery of stored aircraft.

It recently performed an about-face on training requirements by abandoning its opposition to simulator training for pilots before the jets return to service.

The move came ahead of the release of embarrassing emails showing Boeing staff went to significant lengths to oppose simulator training to keep costs down for airlines.

The bad news kept coming this week with an announcement by credit rating agency Moody’s also announced this week that it was looking at downgrading Boeing’s debt.

These are all issues facing new chief executive David Calhoun as he moved into the hot seat on January 13.

Calhoun, 62, is an industry veteran who is seen as well-equipped to handle the mess after senior leadership roles with GE, Blackstone Group and Nielsen Holdings.

In an email to staff, he said this was a crucial time for Boeing.

“We have work to do to uphold our values and to build on our strengths.’’ He said.

“ I see greatness in this company, but I also see opportunities to be better. Much better,” he said.

“That includes engaging one another and our stakeholders with greater transparency, holding ourselves accountable to the highest standards of safety and quality, and incorporating outside-in perspective on what we do and how we do it.”

Heading the list for Calhoun’s priorities for 2020 was returning the MAX to service and making sure customers and regulators were completely satisfied.

The company also needed to rebuild trust, focus on its values and “operate with excellence”, he said.

“Many of our stakeholders are rightly disappointed in us, and it’s our job to repair these vital relationships,’’ he said.

“We’ll do so through a recommitment to transparency and by meeting and exceeding their expectations. We will listen, seek feedback, and respond — appropriately, urgently and respectfully.”

Other priorities included maintaining production health by taking steps to maintain supply chain and workforce expertise as well as investing in future through programs such as 777X, CST-100 Starliner and the 737 MAX 10.