VICTORVILLE (CBSLA) — Southwest Airlines, the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 737 MAX, is now sending their fleet to storage at the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville.
They’ll be parked there until they get the green light to go back into service. The planes were grounded after two deadly crashes in six months.
“Flying, especially international, causes great concern after those two crashes,” said traveler Curtis Kennedy.
“I’m just hoping they figure it out and can make people feel safe again,” said traveler Alexis Stanley.
12 days into the ongoing grounding, it’s still unclear how long the FAA order will last. So the U.S. carriers that use the MAX — Southwest, American and United — are now warning of more flight cancellations to come, some carriers planning long-term.
“Airlines are trying to make the call as early as they can. So American Airlines came out today and said we’re not just canceling a lot of flights for the next week or so, we’re going to cancel out flights for the next month,” said Brian Sumers, senior airline business reporter for travel website Skift.
Sumers says right now, the cancellations shouldn’t cause major problems because the MAX is a very small percentage of the fleet for all the airlines. But that could change in the summer travel season and beyond.
“Airlines need every single airplane they have in July and August. And if they don’t have those airplanes, there are going to be more delays and cancellations. There could be a scarcity of seats. Not that many over the summer. And that’s often a way airlines raise their prices,” said Sumers.
Travelers said the cancellations and possible higher prices are worth it.
“We were supposed to go on a MAX 8 and it was cancelled,” said Kennedy. “I’m not sure which airline we’re going on tonight or the model of the plane. We’re going on a different type of model.”
“Better to be safe in this kind of industry than have something bad happen and look back and regret it,” said Stanley.
Boeing is working on safety software fixes. Then pilots will have to be trained on those fixes. Then the FAA and global regulators will have to evaluate everything before the planes can get back in the air and that could take quite a while.