American Airlines Pushes Back Max Return to January 16

 - October 9, 2019, 10:34 AM

American Airlines on Wednesday delayed its expected service re-entry of the Boeing 737 Max by more than a month, to January 16. Still, the airline again signaled it expects the Boeing 737 Max will gain clearance to enter service by the end of the year, supporting the manufacturer’s estimates of a fourth-quarter recertification of software and training updates for the still-grounded narrowbody. American said it plans to start a gradual return to service on January 16 and that “in the coming weeks” it would release a statement on its policy for passengers who do not want to fly on the Max after that date.

A Securities and Exchange Commission filing issued by American Wednesday noted that the 9,475 canceled flights in the third quarter resulting from the Max grounding cost it some $140 million during the period. The American Airlines fleet includes 24 Max 8s out of a firm order for 100. 

The schedule change would make American the last airline in the U.S. to return to Max to service, if United Airlines and Southwest maintain their stated re-entry dates of December 19 and January 5, respectively.

American said it would accommodate all customers booked previously on the Max through January 6 on a Boeing 737-800 with the same seating configuration. It added that some customers booked on a Max from January 7 through January 15 could face cancellations but that most would fly on a different aircraft type, which might include a 737-800 or an Airbus. The airline said that it will run a formal schedule change on October 13 and customers previously booked on a Max will see their reservation updated on the American web site.

All told, the airline expects to cancel some 140 flights per day through January 15, including some booked on an airplane type other than a Max, allowing it some coverage of Max routes with a different aircraft model in an effort to inconvenience the smallest number of customers.