American Airlines has extended the cancellation of its Boeing 737 MAX-operated flights until January 16 2020.
The updated schedules announced on Wednesday (US time) is two months later than the airline’s previous cancellation period of the trouble-plagued aircraft until November that was made in July.
American Airlines said the cancellations for its 737 MAX fleet until January 16 2020 represented about 140 flights per day.
Passengers booked on a flight that was scheduled to be operated by a 737 MAX would be “automatically accommodated on the same flights operated by a 737-800 with the same seat configuration”, American said in a statement on its website.
“American Airlines anticipates that the impending software updates to the Boeing 737 MAX will lead to recertification of the aircraft later this year and resumption of commercial service in January 2020,” the airline said.
“We are in continuous contact with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Transportation (DOT).”
In August, Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said he hoped to have the aircraft back in the air by the end of calendar 2019.
The aerospace giant has been working on software improvements and changes to pilot training procedures following the two fatal crashes involving the 737 MAX.
The first accident involving a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 occurred in October 2018. This was followed less than six months later with an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 in March 2019. The two tragedies killed 346 people. There were no survivors.
An anti-stall software on the 737 MAX, known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), has been implicated in both incidents.
American Airlines had 24 737 MAX 8 aircraft in its fleet when the type was grounded. It has a further 76 on order.
The airline said it expected to slowly phase in the 737 MAX into its operations once the aircraft was cleared to return to commercial service over the rest of January and into February.
“Since American will slowly phase the MAX in our operation over the course of a month, additional refinements to our schedule may occur through Feb. 12,” American Airlines said. “Affected customers will be contacted directly.”
Media reports indicated American Airlines cancelled 9,475 flights in the three months to September 30 2019, which resulted in a hit to pretax income of about US$140 million.