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Southwest Airlines extends 737 Max flight ban through March

10 November 2019

The model was globally grounded after crashes of two Max 737s - Lion Air flight 610 in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 in March 2019 - killed 346 people.

Southwest cited "continued uncertainty around the timing of Max return to service" in its decision to extend cancellations by another month, the longest delay for any USA carrier.

The planned change is due to "continued uncertainty around the timing of Max return to service", the carrier said in a regulatory filing Friday. Southwest had originally grounded the plane through February 8, and has now extended that grounding through March 6, the biggest delay from a USA carrier.

Two major USA airlines announced plans Friday to pull the Boeing 737 MAX from their schedules into March, raising the prospect the plane could be out of service for almost a full year.

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American Airlines then unveils that they expect MAX to continue flying again on March 5, 2020.

United Airlines Holdings Inc. has pulled the Max from its schedule until January 6.

The announcement comes after an FAA audit found information missing from documentation Boeing submitted to regulators explaining its fixes to the MAX, according to a source familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Federal Aviation Administration issued its order on March 13, 2019.

The world's largest aerospace company is now facing multiple lawsuits in both crashes, including one that alleges Boeing concealed problems and refused to ground the plane on its own.

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Southwest Chief Executive Gary Kelly has said he is "not happy" with the MAX situation. In both crashes, a sensor fed erroneous signals to flight-control software, which repeatedly pushed the plane's nose down until pilots eventually lost control.

Southwest parked its 34 Max planes in March, and had been scheduled to receive 41 more this year. It now said that it would cancel 737 Max flights through March 6.

As a result of the extended cancellations, Southwest said it was unable to provide an update on first-quarter capacity guidance at this time.

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Southwest Airlines extends 737 Max flight ban through March