WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Fort Worth-based American Airlines is extending by more than a month its cancellations of about 90 daily flights as the troubled 737 Max plane remains grounded by regulators.
American said Sunday it is extending the cancellations through June 5 from the earlier timeframe of April 24. The airline acknowledged in a statement that the prolonged cancellations could bring disruption for some travelers.
In a statement, American Airlines said:
“American continues to await information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Transportation (DOT), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), other regulatory authorities and Boeing that would permit the 24 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in our fleet to resume flying.
“In an effort to provide more certainty and avoid last minute flight disruptions, American has extended cancellations through June 5. This will result in the cancellation of approximately 90 flights each day based on our current schedule. By proactively canceling these flights, we are able to provide better service to our customers with availability and rebooking options.
“American’s Reservations team will contact affected customers directly by email or telephone. We know these cancellations and changes may affect some of our customers, and we are working to limit the impact to the smallest number of customers.”
The Boeing-made Max jets have been grounded in the U.S. and elsewhere since mid-March, following two deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia. Airlines that own them have been scrambling other planes to fill some Max flights while canceling others.
American Airlines Group Inc., the largest U.S. airline by revenue, has 24 Max jets in its fleet. The Dallas-based airline said it is awaiting information from U.S. regulators, and will contact customers affected by the cancellations with available re-bookings.
Boeing and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said last week the company needs more time to finish changes in a flight-control system suspected of playing a role in the two crashes. That means airlines could be forced to park their Max jets longer than they expected.
Boeing said Friday that it will cut production of the Max jet, its best-selling plane, underscoring the mounting financial risk it faces the longer the airliner remains grounded.
Starting in mid-April, Boeing said, it will cut production of the plane to 42 from 52 planes per month so it can focus on fixing the flight-control software that has been implicated in the two crashes.
Preliminary investigations into the deadly accidents in Ethiopia and Indonesia found that faulty sensor readings erroneously triggered an anti-stall system that pushed down the plane’s nose. Pilots of each plane struggled in vain to regain control over the automated system.
In all, 346 people died in the crashes. Boeing faces a growing number of lawsuits filed by families of the victims.
The announcement to cut production came after Boeing acknowledged that a second software issue has emerged that needs fixing on the Max — a discovery that explained why the aircraft maker had pushed back its ambitious schedule for getting the planes back in the air.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)