WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM/CBS NEWS) – President Trump announced Wednesday that all Boeing 737 MAX planes will be grounded “effective immediately,” following the deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash that left Americans among the casualties.
All planes now in the air will reach their destination and then be grounded, the president said as he made the announcement during a White House meeting on drugs at the southern border. Mr. Trump claimed the decision was made after new information came to light, and federal aviation officials and Boeing leadership agreed with the move.
The FAA also issued a statement saying it was grounding all Boeing 737 MAX airplanes operated by airlines in the U.S. which consist of American Airlines and Southwest Airlines.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines released the following statement on the matter Wednesday afternoon:
Southwest Airlines is immediately complying with today’s FAA requirement for all U.S. airlines to ground the Boeing 737 MAX 8. As a result, we have removed our 34 MAX 8 aircraft from scheduled service. Southwest operates a fleet of more than 750 Boeing 737s, and the 34 MAX 8 aircraft account for less than five percent of our daily flights.
We have been in constant contact with the FAA and Boeing since Ethiopian Airlines’ accident last Sunday. While we remain confident in the MAX 8 after completing more than 88,000 flight hours accrued over 41,000 flights, we support the actions of the FAA and other regulatory agencies and governments across the globe that have asked for further review of the data – including information from the flight data recorder – related to the recent accident involving the MAX 8. The Safety of our Customers and Employees is our uncompromising priority, and today’s action reflects the commitment to supporting the current investigations and regulatory concerns.
Our goal is to operate our schedule with every available aircraft in our fleet to meet our Customers’ expectations during the busy spring travel season. Additionally, to support our Customers, Southwest is offering flexible rebooking policies. Any Customer booked on a cancelled MAX 8 flight can rebook on alternate flights without any additional fees or fare differences within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city pairs. A Travel Advisory with additional information for Customers will be posted on Southwest.com.
“During our 48-year history, Southwest has continuously demonstrated our commitment to Safety,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest’s Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. “We sincerely appreciate the trust our Customers and Employees place in our airline every day, and the Southwest Team is working diligently to minimize disruptions to our Customers’ travel plans.
A bit later, American Airlines put the following statement on its website:
On March 13, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all U.S.-registered Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, including the 8 and 9 variants, as a precautionary measure. This includes the 24 MAX 8 aircraft in the American Airlines fleet. We are complying with the FAA directive.
- On average, American operates 85 flights per day on the MAX 8, out of 6,700 departures throughout the American Airlines system.
- The safety and security of our team members and our customers remains our top priority. We continue to have the utmost confidence in our fleet, which is flown by our highly-trained pilots and maintained by our highly-skilled maintenance team.
- American regularly monitors aircraft performance and safety parameters across our entire fleet, including extensive flight data collection. This data, along with our analysis, gives us confidence in the safe operation of all of our aircraft, and contributes to American’s exemplary safety record. American has flown more than 2.5 million passengers — during 46,400 operating hours encompassing nearly 18,000 flights — safely on our MAX 8 fleet since the first one was delivered on Sept. 2017 and began commercial service later that November.
- We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause some of our customers. Our team will work with all customers impacted by these flight cancellations in order to rebook them to their final destination. Affected customers may rebook themselves on aa.com by retrieving their reservation or using our mobile app. If a flight is canceled, customers may request a full refund by visiting our website. Customers who booked through a travel agent are requested to contact their agency directly.
- American is working in close coordination with our union partners, the Department of Transportation, FAA, National Transportation Safety Board and other regulatory authorities, as the safety of our team members and customers is always our number one priority.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants released the following statement on he grounding of 737 Max 8 & 9 aircraft:
“We are relieved the U.S. Government issued an order to ground the 737 Max 8 & 9 today, days after the tragic accident in Ethiopia. The announcement was made shortly after an interview I conducted live on CNBC, and while I was being briefed by American Airlines senior management that a grounding was imminent. Our members, the Flight Attendants of American Airlines were growing increasingly concerned with their safety and the safety of our traveling public as days passed and news stories aired of global groundings. Flight Attendants are aviation’s first responders and safety is in our DNA. We deserve a thorough and transparent investigation into how this accident occurred and how an accident such as this can be prevented in the future. American Airlines has assured us they are working to minimize any inconvenience to our members and passengers who may be impacted by this grounding.”