As a Southwest Airlines customer, yesterday I received an email update from President Tom Nealon about the company's now-grounded fleet of 34 Boeing 737 MAX airplanes and the impact on the airline's summer travel schedules.

The news was definitely not good.

As a result of the Boeing 737 MAX fiasco, Southwest has made the decision to take the aircraft off its schedule through August 5, 2019 -- forcing the cancellation of 160 flights each day during the busy summer travel season.

In addition, American already announced this past weekend that the airline was taking its 737 MAX aircraft off its schedule through June 5, 2019. If Boeing's fix doesn't arrive soon, it's likely that the airline will have to push out this date even further.

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.

For its part, Southwest is doing everything it can to ease the pain to affected customers. Said Southwest president Tom Nealon in his message to customers:

The limited number of Customers who have already booked their travel and will be affected by this amended schedule are being proactively notified so that we can re-accommodate their flight plans well in advance of their travel date.

While the vast majority of our Customers' itineraries have remained unaffected, flight schedule changes have inconvenienced some of our valued Customers, and, for that, I offer my sincerest apologies.

In a previous email to Southwest customers, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly explained that Southwest -- which flies only Boeing 737 aircraft -- is working hard to minimize the inconvenience to passengers while keeping a laser-sharp focus on safety. Said Kelly:

Safety is our top priority. It always has been. It always must be. Our commitment to the Safety of our Employees and our Customers is unwavering and uncompromising... I realize this disruption may inconvenience our Customers during this busy spring travel season, and we will do everything in our power to mitigate the impact to our operation. For that, I offer my sincere apologies.

I for one hope that Boeing gets the fix to its ill-fated 737 MAX aircraft completed and approved soon, and the affected airlines are able to get their fleets back to full strength. The longer the planes sit on the ground, the more money the airlines will lose.

Published on: Apr 12, 2019
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