Both Southwest Airlines and American Airlines announced on Friday that they will be further extending Boeing 737 MAX cancellations until the beginning of March 2020.
Southwest is feeling the pain the most as its growth strategy heavily relied on the 737 MAX. The airline had previously canceled all its flights with the jet through February 8, but this has now been pushed back to March 6. However, the airline warned that the timeline may be pushed back even further.
American had previously canceled MAX flights through January 15. Now, the airline isn't planning on having the aircraft in service until March 5 of next year.
American is in constant contact with Boeing, the FAA and the DOT. Based on the latest guidance received, the airline believes that it can resume commercial service in March. Once the aircraft is certified, the airline plans to run exhibition flights for American employees and invited guests. By running exhibition flights before re-introducing the MAX to the public, the airline hopes to prove to the public that the jet is safe to fly.
Southwest previously stated that it would take about three or four weeks to put the plane back into service after the FAA approves the MAX. With multiple delays and more issues being encountered, Southwest CEO Garry Kelly doesn't have much confidence in a precise return-to-service date for the troubled 737 MAX aircraft.
Thus far, United Airlines hasn't changed its schedule for the return of the 737 MAX, though in October, the airline removed the aircraft from its schedule all the way until Jan. 6. Once the 737 MAX returns to service with United and Southwest Airlines, passengers who are nervous will be able to switch to other flights free of charge if they want.