Home-focused Southwest, which had beforehand set February eight as a return day for the MAX, talked about "proactively" eliminating the aircraft from assist minimized the probability of previous-moment cancellations and disruption. But Boeing Co is facing increasing hurdles in obtaining approval to return the plane to service before the end of this year as it has targeted.
Meanwhile, shocking new details have emerged about the source of the delays in returning the Max to service.
United Airlines, the other USA 737 MAX operator, had thus far cancelled flights into January, although it may yet have to extend that time frame.
However, the dates provided by the two airlines are flexible as they expect Boeing to complete its work on the jets to fix the existing problems and regulators signing off on those improvements. The FAA said it would take 30 days after the certification flight before it would unground the plane. according to Reuters. The jetliner was grounded March 13, after accidents at Indonesia's Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines killed 346 people.
Boeing has said it expects to receive regulatory approval to resume flights in the fourth quarter of 2019, but that timeframe has started to look uncertain as the end of the year approaches.
Without the planes, Southwest says it will cancel about 175 flights each weekday.
It is the largest customer of the aircraft in the USA with 34 in its fleet and 200 orders pending when air authorities made the decision not to allow the planes to fly in the wake of the two fatal accidents. While Southwest has always had an all-Boeing fleet and has tied its future growth to the Max, the airline recently said it would review whether to add other aircraft types.
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