United Airlines Takes Boeing 737 Max Off Schedule Until June

(Bloomberg) -- United Airlines Holdings Inc. has given up on flying the Boeing Co. 737 Max until June, two months longer than rival U.S. carriers, as the regulatory fate of the grounded aircraft remains unclear.

The Max will be removed from its schedule until June 4, the Chicago-based carrier said Friday. American Airlines Group Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co., the other U.S. Max operators, recently dropped the plane from service until April.

Regulators worldwide grounded the top-selling Boeing model in March after two crashes killed 346 people. Boeing has been forced to abandon its goal of securing approval this year for software changes meant to reduce the effects of a flight-control system on the Max. The manufacturer recently said it would temporarily halt Max production to save cash.

United’s move enables more efficient scheduling through the busy spring break and Easter travel periods and will reduce the volume of itinerary changes that customer-service teams will need to process.

“By moving the return to service date back more than just a month -- as we have done previously throughout 2019 -- it allows us to have more certainty by providing our customers and our operation a firmer and more definitive timeline,” United said by email. The decision also will help the carrier to better plan its overall 2020 schedule.

Capsule Test

United’s announcement comes as Airbus SE is acting to take advantage of the Max’s woes by seeking to increase engine supplies for the European company’s rival model. On a separate front, Boeing took another hit early Friday, when it had to scrub plans for its crew capsule to dock with the International Space Station because of a problem on the craft’s debut flight.

United rose less than 1% to $89.70 at 1:24 p.m. in New York, while Boeing fell almost 1% to $330.37. The manufacturer’s stock rose 3.4% this year through Thursday while the S&P 500 advanced 28%.

United said the Max grounding would affect more than 11,500 flights for 2020, including about 108 a day in May and the affected portion of June. The carrier had expected to receive additional planes this year and next, which leads to an increasing schedule impact.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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