Alaska Airlines and United Airlines have resumed flying Boeing 737 Max 9 jetliners, several weeks after the single-aisle aircraft was grounded following a mid-air cabin blowout on an Alaska Airlines flight over Portland, according to AP News.
On Friday, Alaska Airlines resumed flying the Max 9 with a flight from Seattle to San Diego. This comes after the airline’s Max 9s have begun the final inspection of cabin doors.
“Each of our 737-9 MAX will return to service only after the rigorous inspections are completed and each plane is deemed airworthy according to FAA requirements,” the airline said in a statement.
On Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration approved the inspection and maintenance process for airlines to return Max 9 to the skies.
United said Saturday was the first Max 9 flight since the Jan. 6 grounding. The flight departed Newark for Las Vegas around 1030 ET Saturday. The carrier expects more flights to come online in the coming days.
Currently, United has 79 Max 9 aircraft in its fleet, the most of any other carrier. Last Monday, a fourth-quarter earnings update warned groundings will result in a first-quarter loss.
United’s Chief Executive Scott Kirby vented his frustrations about Boeing’s inability to overcome production quality lapses in 737 Max jets in an interview with CNBC’s Phil LeBeau on ‘Squawk Box’ last Tuesday.
“We pushed further and further to the right and already started working on alternative plans, and the Max 9 groundings are the straw that broke the camel’s back for us, and we’ll build a plan that doesn’t have the Max 10 in it,” Kirby told LeBeau.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Stan Deal told employees days ago that the company’s most immediate goal is to restore Max 9 flights.
“Our long-term focus is on improving our quality so that we can regain the confidence of our customers, our regulator and the flying public,” he said.
Wasn’t that Boeing’s goal after two Max jets crashed several years ago, killing 346 people?