American, United pull Boeing 737 Max from summer schedules until past mid-August

Business

United Airlines on Friday pulled the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule until Sep. 4 and expects to cancel more than 7,700 flights from June through September, after the manufacturer warned last month that it doesn’t expect regulator approval for the planes until mid-year.

American Airlines followed suit with a schedule adjustment on Friday, removing the planes from its summer flying plans until Aug. 18 “based on the latest guidance.” The move comes after Southwest Airlines said Thursday removed the 737 Max from its schedules until mid-August, as carriers prepare for another peak summer travel season without the fuel-efficient planes.

Boeing told airlines and suppliers last month that it didn’t expect regulators to sign off on the 737 Max until the middle of 2020, much later than the manufacturer’s previous predictions. The 737 Max has been grounded since March after two fatal crashes — in Indonesia in October 2018 and in Ethiopia less than five months later — killed all 346 people on the two flights. A flight-control system aboard the planes was implicated in both crashes.

“With the Max return to service date still unknown, pushing our timeline back to early September is what is best for our customers and our operation,” Leslie Scott, director for United’s global response communications, said in a statement to CNBC.

Even if the 737 Max did return before Sep. 4, United does not plan to swap it for any of its summer flights, according to Scott. The airline continues to take measures to ease disruptions from the 737 Max grounding, including automatically rebooking affected customers.

United’s shares lost 1.8% on Friday, American’s fell 3% and Southwest’s dropped 1%. Boeing stock ended the day 0.7% lower.

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