United Airlines has become the first U.S. carrier to pull its use of the troubled Boeing 737 MAX jets until early June, the carrier said on Friday.
But United’s announcement represents the longest that any airline is making schedules without the use of the grounded 737 MAX – a troubling development for Boeing, which was hoping for re-certification for the plane by early 2020.
As Reuters first reported, the decision follows comments from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that it still has nearly a dozen steps to complete before approving the jets for flight.
The entire fleet of 737 MAX aircraft was grounded after two fatal crashes within months of each other killed 346 passengers and crew. Boeing said last week it was suspending production of the plane in January.
Without the 737 MAX, United said it will cancel about 56 flights a day in January and February, 80 in March and April and 108 in May and the early part of June.
“With the MAX return to service date still unknown, pushing our timeline back to early June is what is best for our customers and our operation. By moving the return to service date back more than just a month – as we have done previously throughout 2019 – it allows us to have more certainty by providing our customers and our operation a firmer and more definitive timeline,” United spokesman Frank Benenati told Reuters.
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