American Airlines President: Boeing 737 MAX Could Fly Again In December

I’ve been expecting the Boeing 737 MAX to return to the skies before the end of the year, and it’s looking a bit touch and go whether it’ll re-enter commercial service by then. However American Airlines President Robert Isom told employees of the airline on Thursday that they currently expect the plane to be approved to fly by the FAA in October and back in the air flying for commercial airlines in December.

We have obviously the 24 aircraft plus more on order.

Boeing is going to get the aircraft back up in the air. They’re going through the paces and right now are suggesting it may be ungrounded as soon as October, potentially allowing flights towards the end of the year.

We’ll continue to work with Boeing on it, and just be really flexible. We know it’s gonna be back up, and it’s going to be the safest aircraft possible. And right now if we see it at the end of December that’s probably about the best timing we can think of.

While American said they wouldn’t accept new Boeing 737s without financing that was really about the financing and not about whether they’ll accept new aircraft, as they’ve planned to throughout the pandemic even as they park and retire aircraft and still have more planes than they need to meet demand.

United Airlines has said it won’t take any Boeing 737 MAXs in 2022. I have to think that American’s reason for buying new planes, and adding even more expense, is driven by details of its $600 million settlement with Boeing, that they somehow otherwise don’t get the benefit of that deal if they renege on future deliveries. Otherwise taking even more new planes now is simply irrational.

The FAA approving the plane doesn’t mean it’s approved elsewhere in the world. There have been efforts to get other safety regulators to sign off when the FAA does, and if that doesn’t happen the planes will need to avoid other countries’ airspace – which is easier to do right now with so many countries still closed.

The expectation is, I think, that in the time after the FAA re-certifies the aircraft, in the weeks it takes for commercial airlines to bring the planes back into service and complete required trainings (including flight simulator time), that some other regulators will approve the plane as well.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] American Airlines, a major operator of the MAX, has said rebranding makes no sense. As American’s President Robert Isom explained it in December, there will be “no rebranding this aircraft” instead “the most important thing to restoring any kind of confidence is to simply get the aircraft back flying.” The 737 MAX ‘new’ 737-8 could fly again by December. […]


  1. When Boeing and the FAA signs off I will be happy to fly the MAX and will gladly accept the addition space that people like Jason provide

  2. I believe the MAX will be safe now, but I’m going to avoid it anyway because Boeing hasn’t paid enough of a price for their gross negligence. Whichever carrier flies this plane first will have to deal with the public blowback too. There will be people freaking out once they realize they’re on board a MAX and those videos are sure to spread like wildfire on social media. Can’t wait.

  3. It’s the ‘if’ word in the CEOs sentence. I will not fly in the Max. Actually I dislike the 737 compared to the A320. Max passenger flights probably won’t happen until early 2021. That was in a Wall Street Journal article a few days ago, citing a unnamed source. But the information contained in the article sounded like a more probable situation.

    Also, note the recent FAA directive for valve inspections on non-Max 737s. Engine cutouts from stuck valves. I have feared for some time the consequences of the shear number of grounded Covid aircraft and Max as they/when they are put back into the skies. Each aircraft requires various levels of regular maintenance while in storage, and then, depending on length the aircraft has been stored, there are varying check/maintenance requirements for bringing it back into service. Lots of potential for mistakes/oversights/slip ups to happen. Scary. Fasten seat belts.

  4. When it goes back into service the media, CNN et al, will twirl their little pointy heads around and have endless videos of take-offs and landings. They will interview people getting off the plane, Did you know you were on a MAX? Were you frightened? Did you know they have a propensity to fall out of the sky? The bubble-headed bleach blond will pant with anticipation for a while. Then they will get bored when nothing much happens and move on to something else.
    Perhaps we’ll get some respite from the endless covid news.

  5. No matter what, the engines are mounted in the wrong place. No amount of software will change that.

    Management screwed up, sold a non existent plane now they are going out of Business.

  6. I also will not fly on it. Stock market requirements are irrelevant to me. I agree with the previous content starting engines were fitted in the wrong place. Software to correct it is irrelevant to me. Personal opinion.

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