Airlines operating the Boeing 737 MAX in the US are adjusting aircraft assignments and cancelling flights to cover the holes created by having grounded aircraft unavailable. While they have enough adaptability to cope with the impact in the short-term, some airlines are preparing for a far longer period of grounding while the two incidents are investigated.
Southwest Airlines is currently the US carrier that the grounding has had the most impact on, with a fleet that includes 34 MAXs, the largest of any current US airline. The Dallas-based carrier is back-filling more than 200 daily departures that its MAX aircraft flew prior to the FAA’s 13 March ban. The airline, which is currently replacing its 737-700s with the MAX series, has been forced to cancel around 150 flights per day and distribute its remaining 750-aircraft fleet to cope with the revised daily schedules.
The airline’s recently- launched Hawaii operations are not directly affected by the grounding, as its designated extended range operations sub-fleet only contains 737-800s.
American Airlines operated 85 departures per day with its 24 MAX 8s from Dallas and has its currently rerouting aircraft throughout the system to cover as much of its schedule as possible.
United Airlines had 40 daily departures with its 12 MAX 9s “Through a combination of spare aircraft and rebooking customers, we do not anticipate a significant operational impact,” stated the Chicago-based carrier.
Operators are expecting a six to eight-week grounding period while the two incidents are investigated is anticipated and, by stretching their current resources and re-booking passengers most operators have said that they can cope. But, if the grounding order is longer than this, and is extended into the summer season, then the impact would be far greater to operators.