American Airlines, one of the largest airlines in the world, is planning on flying its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from the end of December. This is in line with comments from some regulatory agencies that the aircraft will be ready to fly before the end of the year.
Planning 737 MAX flights from December
American Airlines is planning on starting 737 MAX flights between Miami and New York from December 29th, according to a report from Reuters. The 737 MAX has previously flown between New York and Miami, so this is not a new route for the MAX. American Airlines has also previously flown the 737 MAX to Latin America out of Miami.
The 737 MAX works well for American Airlines out of Miami. While it can do some great short-haul flights, the aircraft is also economical on longer routes, such as Quito, Cancun, Antigua, and even some longer transcontinental routes such as to Los Angeles.
Amid a combination of closed borders, uncertainty whether all countries will lift the global grounding of the MAX simultaneously, it makes sense then that American would only put the aircraft on a single domestic route as of now. It gives American time to get a few aircraft ready for flight and, if the recertification does not go through in time, American only needs to alter a small part of its schedule. However, returning the MAX to commercial service with American in December is in line with President Robert Isom’s comments in July.
Getting the MAX recertified
Regulatory agencies, in the last few months, have indicated that the 737 MAX is well on its way to be recertified in the coming months. Europe’s regulatory chief stated he was satisfied with the 737 MAX changes. The FAA’s head Steve Dickson recently piloted the MAX himself, and the aircraft appears to be entering the home stretch before recertification.
Flying the MAX from the end of December means the aircraft has to be recertified by mid-November or early December, but that would be tight. After the aircraft is recertified, American and Boeing will need to work to retrofit the MAX with any and all updates the aircraft requires, and American’s pilots will need to undergo special 737 MAX training before heading into the cockpit.
Boeing cannot deliver any 737 MAXs due to the ongoing global grounding. Instead, aircraft due at American are currently parked until they can be recertified, fixed, and delivered.
American’s Boeing 737 MAX
The 737 MAX seats 172 passengers with 16 recliner-style first-class seats, 30 extra-legroom economy seats, and 126 in standard economy. From a configuration standpoint, this is in line with American’s Boeing 737-800 currently undergoing retrofits. This creates additional efficiencies within the airline’s fleet, and, in case of a necessary substitution between New York and Miami, the 737-800 could take over for the MAX without forcing American to bump passengers.
American Airlines continues to plan for a future with the 737 MAX in its fleet. With 24 already delivered and 76 on order, walking away from this aircraft is something that would be difficult for the airline and counterintuitive. The 737 MAX will allow American Airlines to continue to modernize its fleet and unlock new opportunities.