Southwest Airlines - the US carrier with the most number of Boeing 737 MAX planes in its fleet - will not be using its Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft the entire busy summer travel season. The Dallas-based low-cost carrier has announced it will remove its 34 Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes from its schedule through September 2, 2019. The carrier had previously announced that the Boeing 737 MAX 8 would be removed from its schedule through August 5.
Southwest Airlines estimates approximately 100 flights would be canceled daily. This represents a tiny fraction of the total number of flights Southwest operates as it has a peak-day schedule comprising over 4,000 flights.
Southwest Airlines is not alone when it comes to extending flight cancellations in a bid to offer customers greater certainty and its operation more reliability. American Airlines has recently announced it will cancel flights through September 3, 2019.
The world's largest carrier estimates that around 115 flights would be canceled each day; American Airlines has 24 Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes in its fleet. Like Southwest Airlines, the number of canceled flights makes up a small part of the 6,800 daily flights American Airlines operates globally.
Customers affected by the flight cancellations will be reaccommodated on alternative flights. Otherwise, refunds will also be available to them.
As of time of writing, United Airlines has not announced any move to extend its flight cancellations as 14 of its Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes remain grounded. The Chicago-based airline had previously extended flight cancellations through August 3, 2019.
While nobody knows for sure when the Boeing 737 MAX planes are allowed to return to the skies, airlines around the world are erring on the side of caution right now. The global grounding of Boeing's troubled aircraft remains, and many airlines' revenues have since taken a big hit as their planes remain on the ground. Their loss in earnings will only worsen as summer is usually one of air travel's busiest periods.