American Airlines announced Sunday it will extend cancellations of flights on the Boeing 737 Max through December 3.
While the announcement leaves open the possibility that American will resume flights on the plane for the busy holiday season, it also underlines the duration of the 737 Max grounding, which is now in its sixth month. Boeing originally hoped to get approval for the aircraft to fly again months ago.
American had previously canceled 115 daily flights on the aircraft through November 2. This latest move will result in approximately 140 canceled American flights per day, the airline said. Announcing the cancellations so far in advance gives American Airlines (AAL) time to assign new aircraft to 737 Max routes or rebook customers whose flights were canceled. American said customers on canceled flights can be rebooked or receive a refund.
United Airlines (UAL) took a similar step Friday, canceling 90 daily flights due to the 737 Max until December 19. Southwest (LUV), which has more 737 Max planes in its fleet than any other US airline, has canceled about 180 daily flights through January 5.
The 737 Max was grounded worldwide in March following two fatal crashes in less than six months. The grounding halted delivery of new planes and has forced the cancellation of thousands of flights around the world.
Boeing has promised it will have a software fix for the plane to the Federal Aviation Administration by early next month, and expects the plane to be certified to fly again this fall.
Even after the fix is approved by safety regulators, it will take time to train pilots on the new software and get the planes ready to fly again.
American last month became the first US airline to drop a route entirely as a result of the grounding. The world’s largest airline canceled once daily flights from Oakland to Dallas and back through at least September 3, because it needed to use the plane that had been flying that route for other flights with greater demand.