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Disruptions Continue as 737 MAX 9 Remains Grounded
Airlines are continuing to face operational woes as a result of the 737 MAX 9 grounding.
Airlines continue to feel operational pains as Boeing’s 737 MAX 9 remains grounded following Friday’s door plug loss and explosive decompression incident. Even with Boeing admitting its mistake, there is still no clear timeline for the aircraft type to return to service.
In the U.S., United and Alaska are the largest operators of the type with 79 and 65 in service respectively, according to Cirium fleet data. Copa and Aeromexico also operate a substantial portion of the 215 737 MAX 9s in service worldwide.
After Friday’s incident, Alaska proactively grounded its fleet of 737 MAX 9 aircraft pending maintenance inspections. On Saturday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency airworthiness directive to ground the type at all operators.
According to Cirium Diio data, approximately 25% of Alaska’s planned schedule in January 2024 is set to be operated by the 737 MAX 9 variant. The carrier uses the jet in a variety of markets, including over-water operations to Hawaii.
As of Wednesday morning, Alaska has canceled 487 total flights since January 5, per FlightAware data. While not all cancellations are necessarily correlated to the 737 MAX 9 grounding, this figure represents almost 17% of Alaska’s planned flights.
“As these steps remain pending, we continue to experience disruption to our operation with these aircraft out of service,” the airline said as part of a statement.
While United is the largest operator of the 737 MAX 9 worldwide, the type makes up a smaller portion of the carrier’s larger fleet. In January 2024, the 737 MAX 9 is set to operate 10.5% of the carrier’s planned schedule.
Earlier this week, the airline said it found loose bolts in the door plugs of at least five 737 MAX 9 aircraft. Inspections are ongoing at the carrier.
In the same period, FlightAware’s data reports that United has canceled 650 total flights, representing just over 6% of its planned flights. However, weather has battered several of the carrier’s hubs in recent days. In a statement, the airline said it canceled 180 737 MAX 9 flights during the weekend.
Both Copa Airlines and Aeromexico have canceled their 737 MAX 9 flights. In a statement earlier this week, Copa said, “The airline’s team is working to minimize the impact on our passengers, although some delays and cancellations are expected due to this situation beyond the airline’s control.”
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