Published: Thu, October 10, 2019

American Airlines hopes 737 Max flights to resume in January

American Airlines hopes 737 Max flights to resume in January

American Airlines is pushing back the return of its Boeing 737 Max jets into next year and says the grounding has cut its third-quarter pretax income by $140 million.

In July, American said full-year profit would be reduced by about $400 million if the MAX remained grounded through November 2, and that figure is likely to increase now with a spillover effect into 2020.

Once the MAX has been cleared to fly again, American says it plans to "slowly phase in the MAX for commercial service and will increase flying on the aircraft throughout the month and into February".

American Airlines said Wednesday it expects federal officials to sign off on software updates and other changes to Boeing's 737 Max jets later this year and plans to resume passenger service on the aircraft on January 16.

The company indicates that it is in constant communication with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), which implies that this date of return to operations is a reasonable expectation about the aircraft recertification process.

"The FAA is following a thorough process, not a prescribed timeline, for returning the Boeing 737 Max to passenger service", the spokesman said.

Two 737 MAX aircraft have crashed in the past 12 months - one in Indonesia in October 2018 and the other in Ethiopia in March this year - killing 346 people overall. The airline previously announced it would cancel about 140 flights a day through December 3.

A spokesman for the FAA said the agency will "lift the aircraft's prohibition order when it is deemed safe to do so".

The FAA had requested carriers inspect a total of 165 Boeing 737 NG jets within seven days after a structural crack was found on a small number of planes. Southwest Airlines, which has the most Max jets of any US carrier, has removed the jets from its schedule until January 5, while United Airlines has removed the Max from its schedule until December 19.

At a meeting in September, FAA administrators met with safety regulators and experts to ensure that updates made to the 737 MAX would meet safety standards. US and European Union regulators are reportedly at odds over the plane's reconfigured flight control system. In addition, Southwest pilots have filed a lawsuit against Boeing accusing the company of misleading the airline.

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