Southwest Airlines removes Boeing 737 Max planes from fleet till August

Published on : Saturday, April 13, 2019

Southwest Airlines, which has faced widespread customer displeasure for its mishandling of flight cancellations since the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max last month, announced late Thursday that it was removing Max 8 flights from its schedule into early August.

 

The move means the airline will cancel 160 daily Max-related flights into the peak summer travel season. Southwest, which has more Max 8s in its fleet than any other U.S. carrier, had previously taken the plane out of its schedule through June 7.

 

Southwest President Tom Nealon announced the extension in a letter to customers posted on the airline’s website.

 

“While the timing for the return to service of the MAX remains unclear, what is very clear is our commitment to operate a reliable schedule and provide the famous customer service you expect from us,” Nealon said in the letter. “Our revised summer schedule allows us to accomplish those objectives.”

 

Nealon said the changes are designed to increase the reliability of Southwest’s flight schedule and reduce the number of last-minute flight changes during the busy summer travel season. Travellers have blasted the airline’s last-minute cancellations and limited rebooking options during the busy spring break travel season.

 

Nealon apologised in his letter to customers, the first time a Southwest executive has publicly acknowledged issues caused by the usually beloved airline’s handling of the Max 8 cancellations.

 

Southwest has now taken the Max 8 out of its schedule longer than any U.S. airline operating the plane that was involved in two fatal crashes in five months. That led to FAA grounding of the planes on March 13. Southwest and American operate the Max 8, United the Max 9 model. United has 14 Max 9s.

 

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