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American Plans Flights With Boeing 737 MAX In December; Southwest Not Until Next Year

The side of a grounded Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max aircraft.
Ted S. Warren
Associated Press
Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max aircraft sit on the tarmac at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on March 13. The 737 Max was grounded worldwide following a pair of deadly crashes.

Both North Texas-based companies sought to reassure passengers the planes will be fully inspected and tested.

North Texas-based American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are trying to reassure customers they’re proceeding safely with the Boeing 737 MAX plane now that it’s been newly-approved by federal regulators.

The plane was grounded 20 months ago as several flaws contributed to overseas crashes, killing hundreds of people.

Executives from both American and Southwest are telling customers they’ll inspect and test all of their 737 MAX planes with the new software before they take on passengers.

“There’ll be a great deal of work going on behind the scenes to remove our 34 MAX aircrafts from storage, install new software, and perform maintenance checks on every aircraft,” said Southwest Senior Vice President Alan Kasher in a video message.

A statement from Southwest CEO Gary Kelly estimated the company’s MAX planes will restart service no earlier than the second quarter of 2021.

In a letter to employees, American Airlines’ executives said passengers, “will be able to easily identify whether they are traveling on one even if schedules change. If a customer prefers to not fly on this aircraft, we’ll provide flexibility to ensure they can be easily re-accommodated.”

American will start flying the MAX sooner than Southwest, with service between Miami and New York City scheduled to start on December 29.

Got a tip? Email Bret Jaspers at You can follow Bret on Twitter @bretjaspers.

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Bret Jaspers is a reporter for KERA. His stories have aired nationally on the BBC, NPR’s newsmagazines, and APM’s Marketplace. He collaborated on the series Cash Flows, which won a 2020 Sigma Delta Chi award for Radio Investigative Reporting. He's a member of Actors' Equity, the professional stage actors union.