Business & Tech

United and Southwest extend halt on Boeing 737 Max flights

Two of the three US carriers that use Boeing’s 737 Max jetliner have postponed scheduling flights on the plane, the latest in a series of delays over the last year.

United Airlines said Friday that it would exclude the jet from its schedule until Sept. 4, and Southwest Airlines said Thursday that it would do likewise through Aug. 10. Both airlines had previously said they expected to bring the 737 Max back in June.

United said the decision allowed it to plan service during the peak summer travel season with greater certainty. Even if regulators clear the 737 Max to fly sooner than that, United said, it will not use it to replace other aircraft.

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During the airline’s earnings call last month, Andrew Nocella, United’s chief commercial officer, said the company did not expect to fly the Max this summer.

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Neither United nor Southwest had updated their timelines since Boeing said in mid-January that it did not expect regulatory approval for the jet to fly until June or July. A Boeing spokesman said Friday that the estimate still stood and that airlines would probably need 30 to 60 days after approval to train pilots and put the jet back into use.

The Max has been grounded worldwide after two crashes, in late 2018 and early 2019, that killed a total of 346 people. An automated anti-stall system called MCAS was identified as a common factor in the disasters.

New York Times