Icelandair Fires 45 Boeing 737 MAX Pilots

The world airline trade group IATA says the Boeing 737 MAX could fly again in August. Not everyone is so sure. Different countries’ regulators are taking different approaches, though the US is pushing for many countries to re-certify the plane at the same time — and quickly.

Icelandair has leased aircraft to pick up the slack for grounded 737 MAXs, and in a move that reveals a shocking lack of confidence in the aircraft returning to their skies any time soon the airline has let go of 45 Boeing 737 MAX pilots, 21 that had been flying the aircraft and 24 that were training to do so.

These include 21 newcomers who had begun working as pilots on the company’s Boeing 737 MAX aircraft this summer. The airline announced the dismissals at a training session with a group of pilots. Also, employment contracts were terminated with 24 pilots who began training on the MAX engines last fall.

Pilots are in short supply worldwide. But if the 737 MAX returns to the skies it will be just before the winter schedule. Icelandic labor costs are high, and winter season rough for one of the most heavily seasonal destinations in Europe.

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. How easily can these pilots make a transition to other aircraft…to say a non-Max 737?

  2. The type rating is for the 737 MAX and 737-800, just like all the A320 variants (A318, A319, A320 ect) have the same type rating. To go between the any of the modern 737,s and a 737 Max requires some transition training but it’s not a big difference. The question is whither there should have been a flight simulator requirement.

    Basically this is Icelandic reducing it number of 737 pilots and using the Max as a cover for seasonal over staffing because they’re now leading aircraft and with such huge seasonal swings that’s likely a good business decision

  3. “To go between the any of the modern 737,s and a 737 Max requires some transition training but it’s not a big difference.”

    Isn’t the whole crux of why the MAX is not flying now is because there actually IS a big difference in training required for MAX handling?

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