American Airlines announced Thursday afternoon that it would proactively remove all Boeing 737MAX flights from its schedule through April 7, 2020. American expects the FAA to recertify the MAX around one month before this date, giving the airline time to run its own test and demonstration flights.
The Dallas Fort Worth-based airline has been forced to push back the planned date that the 737MAX re-enters service several times. Just over a month ago, American had formally announced plans to reintroduce the MAX on scheduled services on March 5.
“American Airlines remains in continuous contact with the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation and Boeing,” the airline said in a statement posted on its website.
“Based on the latest guidance, American anticipates that the resumption of scheduled commercial service on American’s fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will occur April 7, 2020.”
Once given the go-ahead from the FAA, American will run demonstration flights of the MAX with special guests, senior executives, union officials, journalists and selected employees. The demonstration flights will form part of a massive effort to convince staffers and the wider public that the plane is safe to fly.
The unions that represent American’s pilots and flight attendants have both said they would veto the reintroduction of the 737MAX if questions about its safety remain unanswered or in doubt.
American is yet to reveal how it will handle customers who don’t want to fly on the MAX because of its safety record. In a recent update, a spokesperson simply said more details would follow in the coming weeks.
The FAA said yesterday that the MAX would not be recertified until the new year, although no specific timeline has yet been given. Once the plane gets the all-clear from the FAA, it may take weeks or even months before the MAX gets given the green light from other aviation authorities around the world.
Other 737MAX operators, including the likes of Southwest and United, will likely follow American’s lead in the coming days.