Updated: Jan 11
Late Friday, American Airlines outlined their return to service strategy for 737 MAX fleet reintegration, starting March 5, 2020.
Some major U.S. 737 MAX operators are now looking to a March return to service (RTS) timetable for the grounded Boeing 737 MAX. American Airlines announced Friday that they now expect an RTS date of March 5, 2020. The company will be running a formal schedule change on November 17, which will update reservations for passengers previously booked on a MAX through March 4, 2020. After the Federal Aviation Administration recertifies the Boeing 737 MAX, American Airlines plans on operating “exhibition flights” for American Airlines team members and invited guests, prior to returning the aircraft to revenue passenger service.
American Airlines will help rebuild confidence in the aircraft internally, so team members will be able to express confidence in the aircraft once it returns to service. An October 30th, 2019 letter to Boeing President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg from the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), the union representing 28,000 American Airlines flight attendants, illustrated the need to include all stakeholders in the RTS process. In the letter, APFA’s National President, Lori Bassani stated,
“The 28,000 flight attendants working for American Airlines refuses to walk onto a plane that may not be safe and are calling for the highest possible safety standard to avoid another tragedy. I know after two days of very tough hearings you understand the deep concerns that remain regarding the relaunch of the 737 MAX. The stakes could not be higher. Our lives are not for sale.”
On October 31, 2019 the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) President, Sara Nelson issued a similar statement saying,
“We have been clear throughout this process and repeatedly in public forums, that we will not work the 737 MAX until and unless we have full assurance from regulators around the world, our colleagues in the flight deck, engineers, and our airlines that the 737 MAX is safe.”
The AFA represents nearly 50,000 flight attendants including those with MAX operator United Airlines. We reached out to a United Airlines AFA member for comment on the return to service for the Boeing 737 MAX. In the “off the record” conversation, the flight attendant expressed complete confidence that United Airlines’ Pilots wouldn’t fly the aircraft until it was safe, so they had little concern about flying on the MAX when it returns to service.
In a November 5, 2019 press release from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the organization’s Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, reiterated a “…united approach by regulators to help rebuild confidence in the Boeing 737 MAX as efforts continue to ensure a safe return to service.”
Source(s): American Airlines, APFA, AFA, IATA