American Airlines seems to expect the Boeing 737 MAX to be back in service by November. This week, the airline submitted routes to be serviced by the MAX starting on Nov. 3, including flights from Chicago to LaGuardia and Los Angeles to Nashville. All told, American is looking to run more than 170 flights with the MAX in November and December.
While this is a small uptick for American, which has more than 6900 flights a day with 970 aircraft, it’s an important indication of support for the MAX. In this way American and United are on the same page; United has said previously that it would leave the MAX off its schedule until Nov. 3. Southwest, with 34 has the biggest MAX fleet in the U.S., has canceled all flights slated for the MAX through the end of the year.
While the FAA and Boeing spar over flight-computer configurations, the airlines are cautiously planning routes and figuring out how to handle capacity when they’d planned for the MAX to replace older aircraft. American, for its part, said that it would continue flying some jets it had planned to retire before the end of the year. “We have extended the operating life of some of our A320, 737, and 757 aircraft on a short-term basis. These extensions will allow us more flexibility as we deal with the grounding of the MAX and the late delivery of the A321neo and provide modest and efficient growth to our fleet,” said American CFO Derek Kerr.
Meanwhile, Boeing has been conducting an extensive flight-test program to vet the software changes, convince the FAA that it has a solution and begin recovering its and the airplane’s reputation. “We know that trust has been damaged over the last few months, and we own that and we are working hard to re-earn that trust going forward,” Boeing’s CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, said this week. Muilenburg says he was on two of the test flights himself.