Southwest Airlines removes Boeing 737 Max from schedule until February

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are parked on the tarmac after being grounded, at the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California on March 28, 2019.Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty ImagesSouthwest Airlines on Thursday took the Boeing 737 Max out of its schedules until Feb. 8, later than any U.S. airline, as the low-cost carrier called the timeline for the plane’s return to service “uncertain.”That’s a month later than the low-cost carrier previously expected.The lack of clarity on when regulators will allow airlines to operate the planes, grounded since mid-March after two fatal crashes killed 346 people, have forced airlines to repeatedly change their schedules.Southwest’s pilots last week said they don’t expect the Max to return until February at the earliest.American and United last week said they don’t expect to fly the planes until January, about a month later than they previously forecast. Airline executives say it is easier to cancel 737 Max flights ahead of time than scramble at the last minute to rebook passengers and crews at the last minute.Pressure is mounting on Boeing to gain regulators to green light the planes again for commercial service, but aviation officials say they have no firm timeline to do so. Crash investigators implicated flight control software that misfired, repeatedly pushing the nose of the planes down on both crashed flights. Boeing has developed a fix but it hasn’t yet handed it over to regulators for final review.Airlines with the Max in their fleets say they have lost out on hundreds of millions in revenue due to the grounding.Boeing in July took a nearly $5 billion charge to compensate airlines but a total is still unknown as the grounding passes the seven-month mark.

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