Southwest pulls 737 Max from flights until June, joining US rivals

Mary Schlangenstein

Southwest Airlines Co., the largest operator of the Boeing Co. 737 Max, is joining U.S. rivals in removing the grounded plane from its flight schedule through early June.

The Max will be pulled through June 6 amid continued uncertainty about when regulators will clear the model to fly, Southwest said. American Airlines Group Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. have already said they won’t fly the Max again until the first week of June.

Regulators grounded the top-selling Boeing model in March 2019 after two crashes killed 346 people. Boeing, which is temporarily halting Max production starting this month, is still awaiting approval of revamped software, including changes to a flight-control system that was implicated in both crashes. Adding to the uncertainty over the Max’s return, Boeing recently recommended flight-simulator training for pilots before the jet carries passengers again.

In this March 23, 2019, file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max aircraft lands at the Southern California Logistics Airport in the high desert town of Victorville, Calif.

Southwest’s schedule change will cut about 330 weekday flights from the 4,000 that the company normally operates. The Dallas-based carrier was flying 34 Max planes when the fleet was grounded and was scheduled to have 75 of the jets by the end of last year.

Southwest said in December that it reached a confidential settlement with Boeing to recover costs of the grounding for last year. The airline previously said the grounding cut operating income by $830 million in 2019. Terms for 2020 will be negotiated separately.

The carrier’s shares rose less than 1% $55.45 at 9:35 a.m. in New York, while Boeing climbed almost 1% to $331.93.

(Updates with stock movement in sixth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Schlangenstein in Dallas at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brendan Case at

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