Well, it was bound to happen. Yesterday, American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom issued a message to American team members. In this update on the Boeing 737 MAX situation, American employees were notified that the airline decided to cancel its Boeing 737 MAX flights through August 19, 2019.
The net result? 115 canceled flights a day through most of the busy summer flying season.
According to the message issued by American CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom, they are committed to operating the "safest and most reliable operation in our history." They continue,
To further that mission, we have made the decision to extend our cancellations for the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft through Aug. 19. Based upon our ongoing work with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing, we are highly confident that the MAX will be recertified prior to this time. But by extending our cancellations through the summer, we can plan more reliably for the peak travel season and provide confidence to our customers and team members when it comes to their travel plans. Once the MAX is recertified, we anticipate bringing our MAX aircraft back on line as spares to supplement our operation as needed during the summer.
Of course, that's the big question -- when will Boeing finish its fix of the systems that led to the crash of two 737 MAX aircraft, and when will the FAA recertify the planes for flight?
In March, Boeing confidently predicted that it would quickly develop a fix for the faulty systems implicated in the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, killing all 346 passengers and crew onboard. However, earlier this month, the fix was unexpectedly delayed.
At this point, there's no definite date when the fix will be completed, tested, installed, and signed off by the FAA -- allowing Southwest, American, and United to get their 737 MAX aircraft back in the air carrying passengers. Regardless, Parker and Isom said they are confident that planes will be in the air again soon:
We remain confident that the impending software updates, along with the new training elements Boeing is developing for the MAX, will lead to recertification of the aircraft soon. We have been in continuous contact with the FAA, Department of Transportation (DOT), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), other regulatory authorities and are pleased with the progress so far.
So, for American Airlines -- and Southwest and United -- it's wait and see, and hope for the best. All these canceled flights represent a lot of unhappy customers and a lot of lost revenue -- in the millions of dollars. The sooner a fix is developed, the better for all involved.