American Airlines Delays Boeing 737 MAX Once Again

The Journal.


March. A seven thirty seven Max crashed in Ethiopia killing one hundred fifty seven people and shocking the world Regulators started grounding the plane and within days. The Max was completely out of the air. Boeing began working with authorities to figure out what happened and airlines also had to reckon with the fallout American airline CEO. Doug Parker said the company was ready to work closely with Boeing to get the planes back in the air. Your is your tragic events And what we care about is safety and we will work together as this industry always does to ensure that safety. He's number one focus. But at the same time American Airlines and other carriers needed to figure out how to cope with grounding of the Max while still operating their businesses Mrs it was really something of a scramble for them to figure out what to do. Reporter Alley cider covers the aviation industry industry. They looked at what would be the least disruptive way to cut flights the Max mostly flew between the New York area and Miami. You you know that's where most of the Max's were being used. Obviously Kansas stop flying between the Florida so they had to kind of spread it out and look at their network and look okay. We're flights that we we have multiple frequencies a day where we could cut one. So we're not just ending travel between two cities trimming a couple of frequencies looked at long haul flights where you can cancel one long haul flight instead of a bunch of short flights where you've suddenly inconvenienced a lot of people. At the time of the grounding. You had people who were already scheduled to travel in. Their plans. Had to be sort of offended at the last minute you know. We talked to passengers who were sort of already on vacation. And then they get a call from their airline airline that says actually your flight home has been cancelled. Then we've re booked you and maybe on a flight that's not on the day. He wanted to travel or has a stopover when he wanted to direct act. Can you tell me what all of this flight rescheduling looked like so most of the stuff they do software. A lot of it is automated. And they're still using using that software you know they're not just like using crayons and colored pencils on a big map of the US or the world but there is a lot of thoughts and analysis and expertise expertise that has to go into figuring out. What's the best way or the least inconvenient way to basically redraw so I spoke to Vasu Raja? He works the network planning at American Airlines. And from what you told me there is a lot of late nights like imagining correctly. Like people at the office office really laid and lots of empty pizza boxes and he said yeah pretty much and all. This scrambling wasn't just causing headaches and late nights for the planning team. Once they make a decision about their network is sort of ripples throughout the company there's people on Revenue Management hoped to decide what the availability should be in making sure to keep some mhm seats open so anyone. Who's Max flight got canceled? You know has the place to go. You know they tell everyone. Don't worry you'll get an email if your schedule has been changed but if you're worried about your vacation you're definitely going to call so they have to staff up on customer service and make sure there are people there to answer those calls and explain the situation so it really is this huge logistical challenge talents. That kind of ripples throughout the airline at the time I think there was a sense that could be pretty temporary but that delay would not be temporary as the Federal Aviation Administration investigated. Boeing's Max Fleet. They uncovered more and more safety concerns. I think what initially seem to some some people like it would be a pretty straightforward fixed. That could be done. Relatively quickly started to just take longer and longer as new issues were discovered and just amid a heightened scrutiny by the FAA but also regulators all over the world. You know bullying was saying it was going to provide all this information to regulators to take a look at and that kind of kept getting pushed back again and again and you know the process just kind of kept getting delayed over and over again regulators flagged problems with pilot training emergency safety st procedures and some of the planes software and as the safety inquiry stretched. On for months Boeing's estimate on the Max would return to service kept moving back I Boeing pushed it into the summer of twenty nineteen and then bowing pushed back again until the end of the year. With each month that the Max's return was delayed. American Airlines had to go into scramble mode all over again canceling more flights. They're kind of just on the receiving and here you know all they can do is wait for Boeing and the FAA to work out the process. And there's really not a lot they can do to speed things along and airlines have to make decisions decisions about the Max you know way before they really having clarity about what's going on with the Max. They have to decide over two months like seventy days before her their schedule. That's when they really have to finalize things so they can get their flight attendants in their pilots scheduled beyond that point just gets harder and harder to make changes. So you know. They've had to kind of looking to the future and think. How likely is it that the Max is going to be back? And allie says the ongoing wing uncertainty put Americans growth plans on hold. It wasn't flying the twenty four Max planes. It had and it wouldn't be getting the sixteen more it had ordered for the rest of the year. American patients with Boeing was wearing thin. The airlines have gotten pretty frustrated with the number of delays that they've seen You know I don't want to suggest that they want to rush the process along but I think you know they're just unhappy with the way. Expectations have been managed. And just how long this has gone on. Those mismanaged edged expectations were costing American and it wanted bowing to pay. That's after the break in this episode of the Journal is brought to you by Lincoln jobs. If your New Year's resolutions include growing your business linked in can help Lincoln's symptons Greens candidates for both hard and soft skills. Things like collaboration creativity. Adaptability Lincoln looks beyond the work skills to connect you with the people you want to to hire people with the qualifications. Who can help your business grow? Visit Lincoln Dot Com slash the Journal for fifty dollars off your first job post. That's linked dot com slash the journal terms and conditions apply. Welcome back by the fall. Delays in the safety assessment of the seven thirty seven MACs were piling up and American Airlines was juggling the fallout its pilots were upset because they we're losing money and peak. Holiday travel was on the horizon in an October investor. Call American CEO. Doug Parker expressed his aggravation with Boeing. They believe the F. B. certified in or quarter. It's probably best. It's that information is best case given what we've all seen. Ah over the over the course of this process so we're prostrate bullying American have been in touch throughout the year. You know American American and other airlines have made it clear that they don't believe they should be on the hook financially for this That they're expecting bowing to make them whole James extended grounding her customers or members enter. Cheryl's we're working to ensure that Boeing shareholders bear the cost of Boeing's failures not American Airlines American Airlines basically said they believed the grounding would result in a five hundred and forty million dollar reduction their full year or twenty nineteen and profits. So that's pretty significant and it's like a big step up from what they thought originally like in the first effort their first quarter earnings. They were predicting a three hundred. Fifty million dollar impact so it's been much more expensive than they were anticipating on. That call Parker said that American was in talks with Boeing about compensating. The airline for about five hundred forty million dollar hit and last week. American said it reached a settlement with Boeing for an undisclosed amount but that deal just applies applies to two thousand nineteen and the Max grounding is still ongoing meaning American Airlines is facing more costs twenty twenty. Where does this leave? American Airlines going into twenty twenty so going into two thousand twenty American Airlines has said that getting the Max flying again. It's sort of one of the biggest I think it needs to do to get on track. American is currently planning for the Max to return by June more than a year after the initial grounding but even even if the Max is clear to fly all the headaches and additional costs for American will be far from over for one thing. It'll take weeks of maintenance to get the planes ready to fly I again after they sat on the ground for more than a year. And then there's the issue of flight simulator training. I think the biggest thing in terms of time and money is that recently. It's starting to become more and more likely it sounds stats pilots. Who need to go through some kind of training before? They're allowed to fly the Mexican. Why would it pose such a high cost for American Airlines pilots would need to go through this training so first of all it was unexpected? It's not really budgeted time time for a simulator. It's just in one place so all the pilots have to come from wherever they're based all around the country and spend time in it. Can you describe bribe. What a flight simulator is like? What does it look like? They kind of look like Like in Star Wars those like like robots on skinny long legs that kind of what are they called At yeah that's sort of what they look like. Yeah Yeah I just googled it to me. That's what they look like. I'M GONNA get a lot of trouble with like a lot of people who are really knowledgeable trouble about aviation. Who aren't going to be like? No that's not what they look like so like a full motion flight simulator. They're sophisticated piece of equipment and they're very expensive and the process of getting everyone to wear the simulator is and scheduling them all for time in the simulator. You know it's just a big another logistical challenge. You know after a year. That's been full of challenges. Do you have a sense. That American Airlines is okay with some of this this delay because it's so much needs the restoration of customer confidence. I do think that safety is the highest priority for the airlines. Sort sort of making sure that everyone is confident in the plane is their top priority so they are planning to do a lot you know. There will likely be a period between when regulators liters allowed the plane to fly again and when it enters commercial service. And they're planning to sort of do as much as they can to put

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