0 min left

Southwest Airlines Hopes to Fly 737 MAX by End of 2020

Southwest Airlines currently owns the largest fleet of Boeing 737 MAX airframes among U.S. based carriers. During their second-quarter earnings announcement, airline CEO Gary Kelly said they were optimistic to start flying the 737 MAX by the end of 2020.

Despite losing $1.5 billion in the second quarter of 2020, Southwest Airlines says they are “encouraged” by the actions of both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, and could re-introduce the 737-MAX by mid-December 2020. The airline currently has 34 MAX airframes in their fleet, with an additional 217 firm orders for the troubled aircraft.

While Southwest Airlines had a net loss excluding special items of $1.5 billion, the airline remains optimistic that the Boeing 737-MAX could once again be operational by the end of the year. The airline discussed their goals during their second quarter 2020 results announcement press release.

Southwest “Encouraged” by Test Flights and Additional Actions

In the multi-page quarterly report, Southwest discussed the recent actions by both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration to re-certify the troubled 737-MAX. Throughout July 2020, both parties worked together to launch test flights, along with providing details towards a new airworthiness directive potentially targeted for the end of the year.

“The Company [Southwest] is encouraged by Boeing and the FAA’s recent completion of a series of certification flights of the MAX,” the airline wrote in a press release. “The Company continues to closely monitor the remaining milestones to be completed in order for the MAX to return to service.”

As it stands today, Southwest has removed their 34 737-MAX aircraft from operations through mid-December 2020. While the carrier acknowledges that “changes to current estimations could result in further delays,” they also note that as things are going, the airline is ready to meet the standards to operate the aircraft for passenger operations this year.

“Regulatory approval of MAX return to service is subject to Boeing’s ongoing work with the FAA, who will determine the timing of MAX return to service,” the airline writes. “Upon a rescission of the FAA order to ground the MAX fleet, the Company will work closely with Boeing and the FAA to safely reintroduce the 34 MAX aircraft currently in its fleet into service and estimates it will take the Company several months to comply with applicable FAA requirements, including all necessary pilot simulator training.”

Airline Lost 82.9 Percent of Operating Revenues Compared Year-Over-Year

Their bets on the 737-MAX coming back into service are part of their overall strategy, which was deeply rattled by the COVID-19 crisis. Outside of non-GAAP financial measures, the airline reported a $1.5 billion loss over the second quarter of 2020. Although the airline had operating revenues of $1.0 billion, it reflected a drop of 82.9 percent compared to the second quarter of 2019.

According to airline executives, Southwest received enough Payroll Support Program funds from the CARES Act to preserve 60,000 employees at the airline. However, 27 percent of their total workforce – a total of 16,900 employees – elected to take emergency time off or separation programs offered by the carrier. The airline hopes to save $400 million in surrendered wages by the end of 2020.

“Our founder, Herb Kelleher, always reminded us: we manage, in good times, so that all of us will be protected from bad times,” Southwest chairman and chief executive Gary C. Kelly said in the press release. “That is why keeping costs low and spirits high, at all times, is so very important. By living Herb’s basic credo, we entered this crisis prepared with the U.S. airline industry’s strongest balance sheet and most successful business model. While the impact of this pandemic is unprecedented, we believe that demand for air travel will rebound, and we fully intend to be ready and well-positioned when it does.”

SUPERTRAVEL August 17, 2020

I won't be flying on a MAX anytime soon. If they go 5+ years without another incident, then maybe.

c502cid July 28, 2020

I never fly SWA, but I'd trust their judgement enough to fly on that bird. Same with UA or AA.

edgewood49 July 27, 2020

Joe, SWA is by default the "gold standard" in operating the 737, their crews are some of the best in the sky they just plain know how to drive that bird. We had an old expression in the Air Force . Some pilots strap into a plane while other strap on a plane" ! SWA pilots strap on the 737. You never heard them whining about the systems have you? Not to say there was a deep flaw there don't get me wrong, they "flew ahead" of the plane not reacting to what the plane was doing. While I agree its a bit spooky thinking about the Max in the air, but if I had to fly one airline it would be SWA

eagle215 July 27, 2020

No thank you, Software bug and faulty sensor killed 500+ people with management knowingly allowing it. that is NOT ok .

enggeol July 25, 2020

The date for re-certification seems to drift month on month which hardly inspires confidence and there will certainly by resistance by the knowledgeable in flying this plane. The FAA and Boeing are both desperate to get out of the disaster created to them both being effectively in bed with one another and Boeing can't afford to drop this ill conceived variant that stretched the airframe beyond a sensible limit at breakneck speed because Airbus had got the jump on Boeing with the A220. Will I fly it, NO. Will it fly in Europe - well they have now convince to European/UK regulators who no longer trust what the FAA does - I doubt it will be in the air outside the US this year, if ever.