American Airlines has announced that it now expects its 24 grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to return to service on Jan. 16, 2020, extending its September decision to cancel all MAX flights through Dec. 6. According to the airline, other aircraft types will be substituted on scheduled MAX routes to avoid flight cancellations. The 737 MAX was grounded last March after the fatal crashes of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10 and Lion Air Flight 610 on Oct. 29, 2018.
“American Airlines anticipates that the impending software updates to the Boeing 737 MAX will lead to recertification of the aircraft later this year and resumption of commercial service in January 2020,” the airline said in a statement. “We are in continuous contact with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Transportation (DOT).”
Once the MAX has been cleared to fly again, American says it plans to “slowly phase in the MAX for commercial service and will increase flying on the aircraft throughout the month and into February.” The FAA has not announced a timeline for ungrounding the MAX, consistently reiterating that that the agency “continues to follow a thorough process, not a prescribed timeline, for returning the aircraft to passenger service.”