Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

The saga goes on.

The accusations fly and the confidence in whether the Boeing 737 MAX is airworthy is wavering.

Even among many airline pilots.

Why, Capt. Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association -- which represents American Airlines pilots -- described Boeing as having a "poisoned, diseased philosophy."

In the middle of all this are airline CEOs, who want to end the disruption to customers and regain their confidence.

But how are they going to do that?

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker was extremely open about the sheer difficulty in persuading customers that, once the software updates on the plane are approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, the MAX is perfectly safe.

His airline has 24 of the planes currently grounded.

In an interview with NBC News's Lester Holt, Parker was asked how the airline planned to reassure passengers. He replied: 

We shall see.

This may sound to some like I have no idea.

Yet what is American supposed to do? Resort, perhaps, to marketing? Parker is no great believer in that: 

I don't know at this point, given the heightened level of interest in this and the news around this, that any amount of marketing would do that.

He's likely correct. Any amount of marketing would seem like trying to add a false sheen on what, after two crashes killing more than 300 people, is a fraught situation that clearly frightens many passengers.

Parker's only solution currently, then, is: 

What we need to do is have the airplane deemed airworthy, be back in service, have American Airlines pilots flying it. I know, if that's the case, the aircraft is 100 percent safe.

He believes most of his customers will feel the same way. He may even be right. 

I've flown the MAX twice and would fly it again. If it was the most convenient flight, that is.

Yet some airlines -- United and Southwest among them -- have already declared that any customers booked on a future MAX flight who feel uncomfortable will be re-booked on another aircraft. Free of charge.

Which sounds good, but will disrupt many travel plans.

Worse, airlines are now pushing back the time when they believe the MAX will be back in service. United Airlines, for example, now foresees August as the earliest time its MAX flights will resume.

Parker insisted that he and his family would be among the first to fly the MAX when it's back in service.

Yet that, in itself, is marketing. It also carries with it a certain irony as Parker was extremely reluctant to fly the plane when it first came into service.

This was strange as American had stuffed it full of as many seats as possible, cut the legroom for passengers -- even in First Class -- and introduced tiny bathrooms that one of his own pilots described as "the most miserable experience in the world."

Passengers weren't happy. Yet Parker didn't see the need to experience it.

That was merely ugly PR. Now, Parker and other airlines CEOs are faced with genuine crisis management.

Perhaps their best strategy is to hope the FAA and Boeing do their jobs thoroughly in telling customers that the plane is now safe and why.

Then, airlines will hope there will be no more incidents with the MAX and that time will soothe fears.

In a crisis, it's best not to offer speculative assurances -- especially marketing-led ones.

Try not to make a show of it. If your pilots really believe the plane is safe, demonstrate your firm, but quiet support.

Then let your customers slowly make their own decisions.

Published on: May 25, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.