Southwest, American Airlines delay return of Boeing 737 MAX

Southwest, American Airlines delay return of Boeing 737 MAX
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Two major U.S. airlines announced Friday that they would delay the return of Boeing’s 737 MAX jet until at least March as the aircraft continues to fall under intense scrutiny. 

Southwest Airlines, which operates the largest U.S.-based fleet of Boeing 737 MAX jets, announced it plans on returning the plane to service on March 6, citing “continued uncertainty around the timing of MAX return to service” by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

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American Airlines followed up with its own statement saying it does not plan on reincorporating the jet into its fleet until March 5. 

“American anticipates that the resumption of scheduled commercial service on American's fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will occur March 5, 2020," the company said. "Once the aircraft is certified, American expects to run exhibition flights, or flights for American team members and invited guests only, prior to March 5."

However, the dates the two airlines provided are flexible as they are contingent on Boeing completing its work on the jets to fix existing problems and regulators signing off on those improvements.

Southwest had previously removed the jet from its flights through early February, while American had expected to reincorporate the planes by the end of 2019. 

The announcements comes after an FAA audit found information missing from documentation Boeing submitted to regulators explaining its fixes to the MAX, a source familiar with the matter told CNN

The Boeing 737 MAX jet has been thrust under intense scrutiny after two crashes between October 2018 and March 2019 killed 346 people.

The aircraft has been grounded since March, and the FAA has maintained that there is no “prescribed timeline, for returning the Boeing 737 MAX to passenger service.”