Boeing investors were energized to hear that a Boeing 737 Max aircraft ferried paying passengers on a U.S. flight Tuesday for the first time since the planes were grounded and placed under heavy scrutiny in mid-March of last year, after deadly crashes killed almost 350 people in Ethiopia and Indonesia over a five-month time frame.
American Airlines Flight 718 departed from Miami in the late morning and flew to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, according to aviation tracking site Flightradar24.com. The plane landed ahead of schedule, shortly after 1 p.m.
AA is the first U.S. carrier to re-utilize Boeing’s jetliner for passengers. The aerospace giant announced the decision in November, when the FAA approved 737 Max to return to commercial flight. In response to the FAA move, foreign airlines are adding the craft back into their rotations as well. Earlier this month, airlines in Brazil and Mexico put the plane back into service.
The jet was grounded for some 20 months, after investigators revealed that the pilots of both jets were unable to control them shortly after takeoff, due to flight control system issues that drove the nose of the 737 Max downward.
American’s team is supportive of the move, and assured of the airplane’s safety, with David Seymour, American’s chief operating officer, claiming that the measured reintroduction of the MAX will serve to increase passenger confidence and offer flexibility if they initially prefer to fly on other aircraft.
American also says it will accommodate any passengers who are concerned about flying on the aircraft.
“If a customer doesn’t want to fly on a 737 MAX aircraft, they won’t have to,” the airline stated. It’s offering reluctant passengers several other options, such as rebooking on the next flight without a fee, changing their itinerary to another airport – or simply canceling their trip in exchange for credit toward future travel.
Max Jets Will Be Reintroduced Slowly
Not all airlines are ready to begin using the Max just yet however.
Southwest, another U.S. airline with a large fleet of 737 Max jets, said on Tuesday that it will continue to wait before placing the crafts into service.
“The Max has not been added to our schedule for 2021 yet, so we don’t have details regarding where it will fly initially once it returns to service,” a Southwest representative told NPR.
For the next several days, American will use the 737 Max for two flights each day, providing roundtrip service between Miami and New York City. Starting next week, more aircraft will gradually be added to the schedule, until it ramps up to nearly 100 departures per day.
“We are taking a phased approach to return the Boeing 737 Max to service,” the airline said in a note to NPR.
The airline sector has seen its ups and down in 2020, with the coronavirus wreaking havoc on the travel industry as a whole, but with new coronavirus vaccines already being deployed, analysts are optimistic that the economy will recover faster, opening up travel and benefitting airline ETFs.
JETS seeks to track the performance of the U.S. Global Jets Index, which is composed of the exchange-listed common stock (or depository receipts) of U.S. and international passenger airlines, aircraft manufacturers, airports, and terminal services companies across the globe.
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