American Airlines completed the first U.S. revenue flight of a Boeing 737 MAX in almost two years. Flight 718 departed Miami at 10:24 a.m. today and landed at LaGuardia at 1:12 p.m. The aircraft turned around for a return to Miami at 2:24 p.m. American was one of the first U.S. airlines to signal the MAX’s official return to service, though other carriers, including United and Southwest (which has the largest MAX fleet), have announced plans to bring the twinjet back to revenue service. United says it will run its first MAX flights in early February, while Southwest doesn’t expect to have its MAX fleet active until the second quarter of 2021.
There’s been a glimmer of good news for Boeing and the MAX this month beyond its return to service. Alaska Airlines placed an order before Christmas for an additional 23 MAXes, bringing its total order to 68 aircraft as the carrier looks to replace older Airbus A320s and A319s in its fleet. Alaska cited lower fuel burn, reduced maintenance costs on the newer Boeings and increased capacity as part of the attraction, which is added to revised financial terms Boeing has implemented to compensate buyers for the nearly two-year delay in the program. The airline also retains future purchase options on an additional 52 MAX aircraft.