CHICAGO (Reuters) – United Airlines said on Friday it is extending by one month its cancellations of Boeing Co 737 MAX flights, through Aug. 3, leading to about 40 or 45 daily cancelled flights.
The Chicago-based carrier joins rivals Southwest Airlines Co and American Airlines Group Inc which had already suspended 737 MAX flights into August after the U.S. aviation regulator grounded Boeing’s best-selling jet in March in the wake of two crashes that killed a combined 346 people.
Since the grounding, U.S. airlines have had to readjust schedules and come up with solutions in order to meet demand during the busy summer travel season.
Reuters reported on Thursday that the Federal Aviation Administration expects to approve the 737 MAX jet to return to service as soon as late June, according to people familiar with the matter.
Even so, FAA acting administrator Dan Elwell told reporters on Thursday after a meeting with international air regulators in Texas that he would not assign a specific date for the U.S. approval.
Once regulators approve the 737 MAX jets for flight, each aircraft will likely require between 100 and 150 hours of preparation before flying, Reuters also reported on Thursday.
United, whose parent company is United Continental Holdings Inc, operates 14 MAX jets and was due to take delivery of 16 more this year before the grounding.
“We’ll continue to monitor the regulatory process and nimbly make the necessary adjustments to our operation and our schedule to benefit our customers who are travelling this summer,” a United spokesman said in a statement on Friday.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle and Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)