TAMPA, Fla. (AP/WFLA) – Southwest is removing flights with the troubled Boeing 737 Max aircraft from its schedule through Aug. 5, a period that includes the peak of the airline’s busy summer travel season.
The company did not specify how many flights would be cancelled because of the new schedule. It removed all 34 of its Max 8 jets from service on March 13 following two deadly crashes involving other airlines. The grounded aircraft account for a small percentage of the more than 750 Boeing 737 models in the airline’s fleet.
“Safety has always been our most sacred responsibility to both our employees and our customers, and we will continue to remain in full compliance with all FAA directives and any additional requirements necessary to return this aircraft to service,” Southwest Airlines President Tom Nealon said in a statement to customers.
Regulators around the world have grounded the aircraft and Boeing has been working to fix the plane’s technical issues. Airlines have had to scramble to put other aircraft into service while dealing with flight cancellations.
Southwest Airlines has already warned that flight cancellations are cutting into bookings and revenue.
Nealon said the amended schedule will affect a limited number of customers “who have already booked their travel.”
“The limited number of Customers who have already booked their travel and will be affected by this amended schedule are being proactively notified so that we can re-accommodate their flight plans well in advance of their travel date,” Nealon said in a statement to customers. “While the vast majority of our customers’ itineraries have remained unaffected, flight schedule changes have inconvenienced some of our valued customers, and, for that, I offer my sincerest apologies.”
“While the timing for the return to service of the MAX remains unclear, what is very clear is our commitment to operate a reliable schedule and provide the famous customer service you expect from us. Our revised summer schedule allows us to accomplish those objectives,” Nealon added. “Again, our goal is to deliver the excellent customer service that you’ve come to know and expect from us, and we remain steadfastly committed to that.”