WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) said Thursday that it is extending the cancellations of Boeing Co (PROHIBITION) 737 MAX flights until June 6, citing the aircraft manufacturer’s decision to recommend pilot simulator training before resuming flights and uncertainty about when regulators will approve their return to service.
FILE PHOTO: Several Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes parked at Victorville Airport in Victorville, California, USA are shown. UU., March 26, 2019. REUTERS / Mike Blake
The decision follows a similar announcement by American Airlines Co (AAL.O) earlier this week to extend cancellations until June 3.
The grounding of the best-selling Boeing plane, which arrived in March after a second fatal accident, now threatens a second season of summer travel. The death toll from the two accidents, the first in Indonesia and the second in Ethiopia, was 346 people.
Southwest, the largest operator of the MAX worldwide, said it will now eliminate approximately 330 flights from Monday to Friday of its more than 4,000 daily flights, which is 10% higher than in December when it said it would eliminate approximately 300 flights from Monday through Friday until April 13.
Once the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grants 737 MAX approval to return to service, airlines will need at least 30 days to prepare the planes and their pilots for commercial flights, airline and union officials said.
It is still unclear how long the FAA may require pilots to spend in simulators before they can resume flights.
Reuters has reported that the FAA will not approve the return of the MAX until February and could fall until March or later. Last week, Boeing said it would recommend requiring all pilots to undergo a simulator before resuming flights, which can also delay the resumption of commercial flights.
Last month, United Airlines Holdings Inc (UAL.O) extended cancellations of your MAX flights from March to June 4.
Southwest said last month that it reached a confidential compensation agreement with Boeing for a portion of a projected revenue of $ 830 million to 2019 operating revenues that arose from the grounding of its 737 MAX plane and said it would share with its employees revenue of approximately $ 125 million from Boeing.
The US aircraft manufacturer is reviewing the 737 MAX software to require a key security system linked to both accidents to receive information from two sensors and added important additional safeguards.
Boeing and the FAA are still reviewing separately a wiring problem that could cause a short circuit in the MAX.
The base is already having significant economic impacts. Boeing is stopping MAX production this month and its largest supplier, Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc (SPR.N), he said last week he plans to lay off more than 20% of his workforce in Wichita, Kansas.
David Shepardson Report; Edition by Simon Cameron-Moore