Last Friday, United Airlines announced that it will be extending the cancellation of Boeing 737 MAX flights until December 19. The previous cancellation was scheduled through November 3, though most in the industry were not optimistic that the 737 MAX can return to the skies in the near future. Now, American Airlines is also extending its cancellations, but through December 3.
While the flight cancellations hurt United, the airline is optimistic that it will be able to fly the aircraft for the busy Christmas travel season. With the extension, an additional 4,500 flights will be canceled across the six weeks. Approximately 2,800 flights will be canceled in November, while the remaining will be canceled in December.
For its part, American is a little more optimistic about the return of the Boeing 737 MAX. The airline won't be using the 737 MAX planes until December 3 as of its latest decision to remove the aircraft type from its flight schedule. American is anticipating about 140 flight cancellations a day in the month of November.
Southwest Airlines, which has been affected the most by the 737 MAX grounding, is less optimistic and isn't planning on using the 737 MAX till at least early January of next year. If the 737 MAX isn't ready for the Christmas holiday traveling season, United and American may be in an awkward position and have to cancel even more flights.
American Airlines stated that it will contact customers whose flights are canceled due to the new schedule changes. Affected passengers will be able to either rebook on a different flight or request for a full refund. By canceling flights months in advance, the airlines are better able to re-accommodate passengers whose flights are affected.
The long-running saga for Boeing may not be over until early 2020. Many aviation experts predict that delays caused by new issues mean that the airplane won't be in the skies for the busy Christmas travel season.