United pulls 737 Max until June, adding to Boeing woes

United pulls 737 Max until June, adding to Boeing woes

NEW YORK — United Airlines says the Boeing 737 Max has been pulled from its flight schedule until June, the latest in a string of troubling news plaguing the airplane manufacturer.

The developments follow Boeing’s announcement Monday that it would halt Max production in January as it became increasingly clear that it still has many regulatory hurdles to clear. It did not say when production would resume.

Also on Friday, Spirit AeroSystems, which builds fuselages for Boeing, said it will end deliveries intended for the Max as damage from the troubled plane begins to ripple outward to suppliers. Adding to the woes, Boeing’s new Starliner capsule went off course Friday during its first test flight. It was supposed to go to the International Space Station, but will not land there as planned.

Boeing and Spirit have the financial resources to manage through delays to the Max return, but smaller suppliers to both companies — who are attempting to hold onto skilled workers in a tight labour market — may not, said Richard Aboulafia, an aircraft industry analyst at the Teal Group. If companies along the supply chain lose workers, it could slow progress when production eventually resumes.

“If they’re not building, how do they get paid? And if they don’t get paid, how do they pay their workers? How do they remain in place?” Aboulafia asked. “It’s this trickle-down effect that’s most concerning, and the biggest question is, you just don’t know how deep that goes.”

Airlines have already been dealing with delayed flight schedules tied to the Max, which was grounded worldwide in March after the second of two crashes of its jet, killing a combined total of 346 people. That has led to fewer available seats and higher prices. The grounding also has stopped airlines from adding routes and expanding, analysts say.

United said Friday that the airline expects to cancel thousands of flights in coming months as a result of the grounding. The company had previously planned to return the plane to its flight schedule in March. United currently has 14 Max-9 aircraft, but it was supposed to have 30 by this time.

United expects to cancel about 75 flights per day this month and 56 flights per day in January. The airline said it has been swapping aircraft and using spare planes to try to minimize disruptions.

Southwest Airlines, which was counting on the Max to update its fleet, has said it will add the plane back into its schedule in April. American Airlines announced the same expectation last week.

Southwest has been cancelling about 175 flights each weekday and is among the hardest hit by the Max grounding. The airline had 34 Max planes when they were grounded and expected more to be delivered this year.

The Federal Aviation Administration has not said exactly when the Max would return to the skies, but it has said the certification process would not be completed by the end of this month.

“The system seems to be hit with a touch of paralysis, and it’s all very strange,” Aboulafia said. Technical fixes to the Max should have taken just a couple of months, but political and regulatory pressure have contributed delays, he added. “Because of the pressure, they’ve gone over everything with a fine-tooth comb. Everything has to be investigated and gone over and over again and again.”

Spirit AeroSystems, based in Witchita, Kansas, said Friday that Boeing asked that deliveries be wound down by the end of the year. Revenue from 737 Max components account for more than half of Spirit’s total annual revenue. The company employs 13,500 people, and is the largest job provider in Kansas’ biggest city.

This week, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said that the state may have to help pay workers at a company if the planes don’t return to the sky soon. Shares of Boeing fell 1% while Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc. slid 0.5% Friday. United Airlines’ stock was up about 0.5% Friday.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Marcus Golczyk, with Taco Monster, hands food to a customer during Food Truck Drive and Dash in the Westerner Park parking lot in Red Deer Friday afternoon. The drive-thru event will run every Thursday from 4-7 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through June. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff
Food Truck Fridays, Food Truck Drive and Dash return in Red Deer

Red Deerians are able to take in a drive-thru food truck experience… Continue reading

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault chairs a premiers virtual news conference as premiers John Horgan, B.C., Jason Kenney, Alberta, and Scott Moe, Saskatchewan, are seen onscreen, Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Several provinces bring in new restrictions as high COVID-19 case numbers persist

Several provinces are gearing up to tighten public health measures once again… Continue reading

Members of the RCAF take part in a Royal Canadian Air Force change of command ceremony in Ottawa on Friday, May 4, 2018. The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open its doors to military pilots from other countries as it seeks to address a longstanding shortage of experienced aviators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
RCAF turns to foreign pilots to help with shortage as commercial aviators stay away

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open… Continue reading

An arrivals and departures information screen is seen at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Halifax on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. The chief executive of Atlantic Canada's largest airport is hoping for COVID-19 testing for arriving passengers "sooner rather than later," as an added measure to combat the province's third wave of the virus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Halifax airport CEO hopes for more on-site COVID testing ‘sooner rather than later’

HALIFAX — The chief executive of Atlantic Canada’s largest airport is hoping… Continue reading

Shoppers wear mask as they shop at a nursery & garden shop on Mother's Day weekend during COVID-19 pandemic in Wilmette, Ill., Saturday, May 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Tearful reunions mark second Mother’s Day under pandemic

Last Mother’s Day, they celebrated with bacon and eggs over FaceTime. This… Continue reading

Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet, standing, watches the game during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 5-2. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Tocchet won’t return as coach of Coyotes after 4 seasons

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes and coach Rick Tocchet have mutually… Continue reading

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella shouts at an official after a fight between Columbus Blue Jackets' s Gavin Bayreuther and Florida Panthers' Sam Bennett during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, April 19, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Tortorella out after 6 years as Columbus Blue Jackets coach

COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Tortorella is out as coach of the Columbus… Continue reading

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada's vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel's approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

JASPER, Alta. — A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing… Continue reading

The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., are seen in a May 16, 2011, file photo. The wildfire that is devastating large swaths of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray comes just five years after another blaze destroyed 400 buildings and left 2,000 people homeless in Slave Lake, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Jackson
Ten years later: Five things to know about the Slave Lake wildfire

A wildfire burned about one-third of Slave Lake in northern Alberta in… Continue reading

Most Read