American Airlines has extended its flight cancellations caused by the grounding of its fleet of Boeing 737 Max aircraft until August, affecting 115 services a day.
The airline says the cancellations only affect 1.5 per cent of its total daily flights. CEO Doug Parker and president Robert Isom said the move will help the carrier to “plan more reliably for the peak travel season”.
However, American Airlines says it is confident the 737 Max will be back in the air prior to this based on conversations with Boeing, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Transportation, National Transportation Safety Board and “other regulatory authorities”.
Once the fleet is cleared to be airborne, the airline plans to bring the aircraft “back on line as spares to supplement our operation as needed during the summer”.
In an afterword to the announcement, American Airlines said not all flights that were due to be operated by a 737 Max will be cancelled, as the carrier will find substitute aircraft where possible. Passengers affected by the cancellations will be contacted and offered the chance to rebook or request a refund.
The airline revealed last week that it has downgraded its sales forecast as a result of the grounding of the global 737 Max fleet.
Boeing recommended the aircraft temporarily cease flying after the same model was involved in two fatal incidents – a Lion Air crash in October 2018 and an Ethiopian Airlines accident last month.
Investigators on both cases have said the 737 Max’s Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which is designed to keep the aircraft from stalling if sensors detect that the nose of the aeroplane is too high on take-off, may have caused the pilots to lose control.
Combined, the crashes killed a total of 346 passengers and crew.