American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said he expects the Federal Aviation Administration to allow Boeing 737 MAX jets to return to service by mid-August, though the airline is keeping the plane off its schedule until Sept. 3.
“We wouldn’t be selling seats today unless we believed it was a highly likely possibility,” that the planes will be able to come back into scheduled service, Parker said during the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.
The comments came just days after American extended the cancellation of MAX flights from its schedule. Previously, American had removed the MAX from its schedules through Aug. 5.
Regulators around the world grounded 737 MAXes in mid-March after two of the planes crashed in about five months, killing 346 people. Parker recognized that even when the planes are legally allowed to fly again, it may take time and considerable effort before the general public feels safe seeing them at the end of the jet bridge.
Even if the grounding order is lifted in August, American will continue to keep its MAXes out of revenue service until September because of the airline’s crew scheduling policies. But, Parker said, he views the extra time as a way to reassure passengers that the planes are safe. He said he and other airline executives will likely fly on the MAX once it is re-certified, before it starts carrying paying passengers.
“If an American Airlines pilot is comfortable taking up an aircraft, I know, and our customer should know, that aircraft is 100 percent safe,” Parker said.
Featured image courtesy of American Airlines.