American Airlines has, for the fourth time, decided to extend cancellations on flights operating the Boeing 737 MAX. The airline announced on Sunday that about 115 flights would be affected daily into early November as groundings of the Boeing jet continue across the US.
American Airlines is currently the second-largest MAX operator in the United States and had planned to reintroduce the aircraft into its schedule in early September, though that has now been extended by a further two months.
In April, the airline cut its annual profit forecast, suffering an estimated $350 million hit from the grounding.
737 MAX cancellations continue across the US
Extended cancellations by US airlines make it increasingly likely that the aircraft will not return to service until 2020. On 12 July, United Airlines extended the cancellation of flights on MAX aircraft through 3 November, which it estimated will result in the cancellation of 5,000 flights over two months.
Southwest Airlines, the world’s largest MAX operator, extended in June cancellations of flights on its MAX fleet through 1 October, but its chief executive Gary Kelly said in an internal memo that he expects cancellations beyond October due to additional problems identified during US Federal Aviation Administration flight tests.
The 737 MAX, which had been Boeing’s fastest-selling aircraft, was grounded worldwide in March after Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed shortly after take-off, five months after a similar Lion Air fatal crash off the coast of Indonesia.
Boeing hopes a software upgrade and new pilot training will add layers of protection to prevent erroneous data from triggering a system called MCAS, which was activated in both the planes before they crashed.