Aviation

Airlines still selling tickets on grounded Boeing 737 MAX

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Airlines around the world have continued offering seats on the grounded Boeing 737 MAX, with flights available in November and December for major carriers.

The Times reported American, United, Southwest, Norwegian, and TUI airlines are selling thousands of flights in November and December of this year using the jet.

According to The Times, some 17,512 flights have been booked with the planes for November, and 15,114 in December this year, citing data from UK travel intelligence firm OAG Aviation.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is currently working alongside Boeing to ensure return to service of the 737 MAX, has consistently said that it is not operating on a strict timeline for the return to service of the jet.

Last week, the FAA said it would invite Boeing 737 MAX pilots from around the world to participate in simulator tests as part of the re-certification process of the jet, but said it had not yet specified a “firm schedule” for the tests, according to Reuters.

This came as Reuters separately reported that Boeing will resume production on the 737 MAX at a rate of 52 aircraft per month as of February 2020, to 57 jets per month in June.

The FAA said in July that it hopes global regulators will simultaneously approve the 737 MAX’s return to service when the time comes.

Boeing chairman, president and CEO Dennis Muilenburg told investors on a conference call in July that he remains confident the grounded 737 MAX will return to service by October this year, but warned the manufacturer may have to halt production on it.

Acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell told members of the United States Congress that the agency “hopes to achieve near simultaneous approval from the major civil aviation authorities around the world”, according to Reuters.

He added that every regulator will make its own determination, but said the FAA is “working with our colleagues from the European Union, Canada and Brazil” to address concerns.

Several major airlines have been forced to cancel routes as a result of the grounding.

United Airlines has been forced to suspend its services between Chicago O’Hare and Leon, Mexico (BJX), which will take effect 3 September.

United has 14 Boeing 737 Max 9s in its fleet – a slightly larger model jet than the MAX 8 – which have remained grounded since March.

American Airlines, which has 24 MAX 8 aircraft in its fleet, cancelled direct flights from Dallas to Oakland earlier this month. The route will remain cancelled through at least 3 September.

American has cancelled flights for the 737 MAX through to 2 November, with the latest extension the fourth time that the airline has extended cancellations on the jet.

This followed a separate announcement by Southwest Airlines that it would cease operations at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) effective Sunday, 3 November as a result of the grounding of the 737 MAX.

Ryanair isn’t expecting to fly the MAX until early next year.

It has been speculated that the jet name could be changed, after a Ryanair 737 MAX appeared to have had the name of one of its new jets changed to 737-8200.

Boeing is currently seeking Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval for a software update to the jet’s Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which was linked to the crash of both Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

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