United Airlines has pulled the Boeing 737 MAX from their schedule until June 2020, as the global grounding of the type continues with no clear resolution.
According to Reuters, the airline said on Friday that they don’t plan on having the aircraft in their flight schedule until June 4th, which is the longest out of the three U.S. carriers, and ultimately subject to whether the aircraft gets the all clear from safety regulators.
United previously pulled the aircraft from its schedules until March, which would mark one year since the grounding begun, as a result of the second Boeing 737 MAX crash, however the lack of clarity, and the deepening investigation around Boeing and the FAA, has lead to more time being required.
United notes that the decision comes after comments from the Federal Aviation Administration, who stated that they have nearly a dozen steps to complete before approving the aircraft for flight. Officials involved in the process say the aircraft might not receive approval until the late February/March period.
Boeing announced the other day that they would be halting production of the 737 MAX in January, as a result of the ongoing grounding and investigations.
With no 737 MAX operating in their fleet United is having to cancel approximately 56 flights per day in January and February, which are classed as slow travel months. During March and April daily flight cancellations are expected to climb to 80, with May and early June seeing a jump to 108.
United Airlines has a total of 14 737 MAX aircraft in storage and has 144 on order. To cover the missing aircraft, spare aircraft have been used and fleet plans have been adjusted accordingly.
Competitors Southwest Airlines and American Airlines are the only other two U.S. mainline airlines with the 737 MAX aircraft in their fleets and in their order backlog. Unlike United, these two airlines have the aircraft removed from their schedule until early April.
Southwest is currently maintaining 34 737 MAXs in storage, whilst American has 24. Combined, both airlines have total orders for 338 aircraft.
By removing the aircraft from the schedule by more than one month at a time, United Airlines says they have more wriggle room in their fleet planning; benefiting passengers and airline staff as they endure this lengthy grounding.