Families suing Boeing for the 737 Max crashes have been delayed a year after the pandemic closed courts

Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302
The crash site of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max plane, which crashed in 2019.

  • The coronavirus slowed cases against Boeing from 737 Max crash victims’ families, their lawyer said.
  • The pandemic meant new restrictions on courts, which Bob Clifford said meant limited court access.
  • He said: “Pre-pandemic, the case might be over by now. So we’re at least a year behind.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Legal cases brought against Boeing by the families of those killed in the two fatal 737 Max crashes have been delayed by at least a year by the coronavirus pandemic, one of the lawyers representing those families said.

Boeing’s 737 Max plane crashed twice: A Lion Air plane crashed and killed all 189 people on board in October 2018, and an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed in March 2019, killing 157.

Bob Clifford, who represents more than 70 families affected by the Lion Air crash, told Insider that the families’ cases against Boeing are running “at least a year behind.”

That means some of the families expect to still be pursuing the court case three years after their loved ones died.

This is because many federal courts suspended jury trials and in-person hearings over COVID-19.

Lion Air
Families of the victims of Lion Air flight JT 610, visit an operations centre to look for personal items of their relatives in October 2018.

The US District Court in Chicago, where many of the cases against Boeing are being heard, suspended civil and criminal jury trials. The number of in-person hearings were also greatly reduced.

Clifford said lawyers who represent the families had “very limited access to our courts.”

“Here we are, some two-and-a-half years, post-crash … and we’re at least a year away from any jury trial. Whereas, in the past, pre-pandemic, the case might be over by now. So we’re at least a year behind.”

Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302
An investigator with the U.S. National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) looks over debris at the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 on March 12, 2019 in Bishoftu, Ethiopia.

He added: “I really don’t predict any meaningful, significant jury trials, certainly here in Chicago, but most likely anywhere in the US, in all of 2021. And then, we’ll see what happens in 2022.”

Some families have chosen to settle their cases against Boeing, avoiding the lengthy trial process.

Boeing declined to comment when contacted by Insider.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Boeing’s largest 737 Max aircraft just took to the skies but it won’t see passengers for another 2 years – take a look at the $134.9 million jet

Boeing's 737 Max 10 departing Renton Municipal Airport on its first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The first flight of a Boeing 737 Max 10.

  • Boeing’s 737 Max 10 just flew for the first time, departing from Renton Municipal Airport near Seattle for a test flight on June 18.
  • The largest member of the Max family can fly up to 230 passengers as far as 3,300 nautical miles.
  • United Airlines holds the largest order for the aircraft with 100 planes to be delivered later in the decade.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Boeing just put another milestone between it and the grounding of its 737 Max.

Boeing's 737 Max 10 departing Renton Municipal Airport on its first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The first flight of a Boeing 737 Max 10.

The first 737 Max 10 successfully took to the skies on June 18 for its maiden aerial journey.

Boeing's 737 Max 10 at Renton Municipal Airport for its first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The first flight of a Boeing 737 Max 10.

The Max 10 is the fourth and largest Max variant to take flight but the first new model since the Federal Aviation Administration ungrounded the aircraft family in November.

Boeing's 737 Max 10 at Renton Municipal Airport for its first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The first flight of a Boeing 737 Max 10.

Boeing test pilots flew the plane, still designated as “experimental” until its official certification, from the manufacturer’s 737 production plant at Renton Municipal Airport near Seattle to nearby Boeing Field.

Boeing's 737 Max 10 departing Renton Municipal Airport on its first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The first flight of a Boeing 737 Max 10.

Though the straight line distance between the two airports is five miles, the test flight took the long way around Washington and even performed a touch-and-go landing at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington.

The route of the Boeing 737 Max 10's first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The route of the Boeing 737 Max 10’s first flight.

Take a closer look at the Boeing 737 Max 10.

Boeing's 737 Max 10 at Renton Municipal Airport for its first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The first flight of a Boeing 737 Max 10.

Boeing is entering a new realm with the Max as it’s not only the largest Boeing 737 Max but the largest Boeing 737 family member to be built by Boeing since the product line’s inception in 1964.

Looking at Boeing's 737 production plant in Renton, Washington
Boeing’s 737 production plant in Renton, Washington.

Read More: Boeing 737 timeline: From the early days to the grounding of the 737 Max after 2 fatal crashes that killed 346 people 5 months apart

Until now, each 737 Max aircraft has had a previous generation counterpart. The Boeing 737 Max 8 has the 737-800, the 737 Max 9 the 737-900, and the 737 Max 7 the 737-700.

Boeing 737 MAX

But the Max 10 is in a league of its own as there’s no Next Generation equivalent. It’s closer in size to the Boeing 757-200 with a difference in length of only 10 feet and four inches.

Boeing's 737 Max 10 at Renton Municipal Airport for its first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The first flight of a Boeing 737 Max 10.

In terms of length, Boeing’s latest jet comes in at 143 feet and eight inches, enough to seat up to 204 passengers in a two-class configuration and 230 in a single-class configuration. Its size does come with tradeoffs, however, most notably in range.

Boeing's 737 Max 10 at Renton Municipal Airport for its first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The first flight of a Boeing 737 Max 10.

Source: Boeing

The Max 10 can fly up to 3,300 nautical miles when equipped with an auxiliary fuel tank, making city pairs such as New York-Dublin, Ireland; London, UK-Dubai, UAE, and Hong Kong-Perth, Australia feasible under the right conditions.

Boeing's 737 Max 10 at Renton Municipal Airport for its first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The first flight of a Boeing 737 Max 10.

The smallest Max 7, for comparison, can fly a greater range of 3,850 nautical miles.

Boeing 737 Max 7

Source: Boeing

In terms of wingspan, however, the Max 10 shares the same dimensions as its sibling at 117 feet and 10 inches.

Boeing's 737 Max 10 at Renton Municipal Airport for its first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The first flight of a Boeing 737 Max 10.

Source: Boeing

Also the same as its predecessors are the Max 10’s engines. A pair of CFM International LEAP-1B engines power the entire 737 Max family.

Boeing's 737 Max 10 at Renton Municipal Airport for its first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The first flight of a Boeing 737 Max 10.

The engines offer 28,000 pounds of thrust apiece and contribute to the aircraft’s increased fuel efficiency compared to older model 737 aircraft.

Boeing's 737 Max 10 at Renton Municipal Airport for its first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The first flight of a Boeing 737 Max 10.

Source: Safran

Also aiding in the aircraft’s fuel efficiency is a pair of “advanced technology” winglets on each wing, which comes standard on all Max aircraft.

Boeing's 737 Max 10 at Renton Municipal Airport for its first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The first flight of a Boeing 737 Max 10.

United Airlines holds the largest stake for the aircraft with 100 jets on order.

United Airlines Houston Boeing 737

Source: United Airlines

United also flies the smaller Max 9 and will fly the even smaller Max 8 this summer.

United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9
A United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9.

Read More: I flew on United Airlines’ first Boeing 737 Max flight in nearly 2 years and it was just the boring flight the airline needed

The Max 10’s range would allow United to fly the aircraft of any of its domestic routes and even fly to cities in Western Europe from its Newark and Washington, DC hubs.

Boeing's 737 Max 10 at Renton Municipal Airport for its first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The first flight of a Boeing 737 Max 10.

Boeing has been quickly putting the Max saga behind it, even after a second grounding came in April once electrical issues were discovered with some aircraft.

Boeing 737 Max

Read More: I flew on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max weeks before it was grounded again — here’s what it was like

Most countries around the world have allowed for the Max to fly and more than 130,000 hours have been flown by the aircraft family since November, the Seattle Times reported.

FILE PHOTO: An employee works near a Boeing 737 Max aircraft at Boeing's 737 Max production facility in Renton, Washington, U.S. December 16, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson
An employee works near a Boeing 737 Max aircraft at Boeing’s 737 Max production facility in Renton

Source: Seattle Times

The notable exception remains to be airlines in China, where the jet has not yet been approved to fly once more.

Boeing 737 Max
Boeing test pilot Jim Webb gives a thumbs-up from the cockpit of a 737 MAX 7 at Boeing Field, on March 16, 2018 in Seattle, Washington, after completing the plane’s first flight. The aircraft is the shortest variant of fuel efficient MAX family.

All four US airlines that ordered the Max have resumed or began service with the Max and they can be found flying across the country.

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max
An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max.

Read More: I flew on Boeing 737 Max aircraft from United and American and found one airline to be a lot more transparent than the other — here’s how the 2 compare

Boeing is also reportedly clearing out its backlog of “whitetail” aircraft, the term for planes that were built but lost their customer, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Boeing's 737 Max 10 at Renton Municipal Airport for its first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The first flight of a Boeing 737 Max 10.

Source: Wall Street Journal

The Max 10 still has a ways to go before it will be flying for any passenger airline, however, and likely won’t do so until at least 2023, according to the Seattle Times.

Boeing's 737 Max 10 at Renton Municipal Airport for its first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The first flight of a Boeing 737 Max 10.

Source: Seattle Times

Safety fixes to prevent another fatal crash are being implemented into the aircraft, including a third sensor to gauge the airline’s “angle of attack.”

Boeing's 737 Max 10 at Renton Municipal Airport for its first flight - Boeing 737 Max 10 First Flight
The first flight of a Boeing 737 Max 10.

Source: Seattle Times

The Max 10, as the largest variant, competes against Airbus’ A321neo aircraft. Airbus already has a head start on Boeing as it began delivering the A321neo in 2017. And so far, it has a flawless track record.

Airbus A321neo

Source: Airbus

But by the time the Max 10 is flying passengers, Airbus will already have introduced another long-range version of its popular A321neo aircraft, the A321XLR.

Airbus A321XLR
A computer rendering of an Airbus A321XLR.

Compared to the Max 10, the A321XLR offers a 4,700 nautical miles range and United is also a customer.

A321XLR United Airlines

Source: Airbus

Boeing has still yet to provide a next-generation replacement for its Boeing 757 aircraft that directly competes with the Airbus A321.

LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines - Delta Air Lines Boeing 757
A Delta Air Lines Boeing 757.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Airlines are not prepared for the surge in travelers because they don’t have enough planes – or pilots to fly them

A Southwest Airlines plane lands at Los Angeles International Airport next to American Airlines planes.
A Southwest Airlines plane lands at Los Angeles International Airport.

  • Airlines are discovering they retired too many aircraft during the pandemic and let go too many pilots and flight attendants.
  • Southwest Airlines says it doesn’t have enough planes to sustain its model in 2022 and 2023.
  • Airline schedules are highly unreliable as a result, leading to flight changes and cancellations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Travel is surging in the US and airlines are once again faced with shortages, but it’s more than just pilots this time.

Many US carriers shed older aircraft from their fleets in a cash-saving effort during the worst times of the pandemic. At the time, vaccines a distant dream and travel demand wasn’t expected to rebound for years.

“The airlines were being forced to make very complex decisions under enormous pressure,” Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst and cofounder of Atmosphere Research Group, told Insider. “Key among them is: How do you bring your costs down to survive an approximately 96% decline in demand?”

But Southwest Airlines, after accelerating the retirement of 737-700 aircraft in 2020, is now saying that the airline’s current fleet won’t be enough to support the carrier’s business model in the upcoming years and could hinder expansion efforts.

“We don’t feel like we have enough airplanes for 2022 and 2023, and that’s just doing what you know us to be famous for,” Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chief executive officer, CNBC, referring to its current business of mostly domestic flying.

Now that demand is ramping up, airlines might find themselves without enough planes to keep up and Southwest isn’t the only airline that shed planes during the pandemic. Delta Air Lines similarly parted with three fleet types including the McDonnell-Douglas MD-80/MD-90, Boeing 737-700, and Boeing 777-200 series of aircraft.

Those aircraft now sit in storage facilities and bringing them back into service would be too great of an expense for airlines, according to Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis for Teal Group. New builds from manufacturers, including the Boeing 737 Max and Airbus A220, are preferable but come at a slower rate.

Read More: Airlines are delaying new plane deliveries and seeking financing – and that’s bad news for Boeing as the 737 Max inches toward its return

The aircraft shortage is also compounded by the age-old pilot shortage, with not even pilots to fly the ambitious schedules that airlines have set. American Airlines saw the impacts of over-scheduling in mid-June when hundreds of flights were canceled in a single weekend thanks to a combination of labor shortages and severe weather.

“The pilot shortage that loomed over the industry in 2019 may have abated slightly, but it hasn’t gone away,” Harteveldt said.

Airlines moved to shed staff last year, including pilots and flight attendants, through buyouts and voluntary separation programs in a bid to lower costs. But just like with aircraft, some may have parted ways with too many now that demand is rebounding.

“Perhaps they had lost more pilots and flight attendants than they otherwise would have wanted and as a result, that may have reduced their ability to scale up their flying as demand returned,” Harteveldt said.

Shortages stemming from massive staff reductions also could’ve been avoided since airlines were the recipients of three rounds of federal stimulus money.

“I think that the airlines would probably admit – privately if not on the record – that perhaps they should have been less aggressive in encouraging employees to the pilots and flight attendants to take buyouts and leave the company when the government was going to cover 70% of those employees’ wages,” Harteveldt said.

Delta has committed to hire and train 1,000 new pilots between now and next summer and United has launched a pilot training program, Aviate, that provides financing options and a pathway to flying its aircraft for students.

Airline schedules are now highly unreliable and travelers booking flights should be prepared for unexpected changes or cancellations. Changes to airline schedules can occur anytime and travelers should frequently be checking their bookings to see if changes have occurred.

If an airline has changed a traveler’s trip, they have the right to request a new flight or even a refund if the change is great enough.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I flew on Southwest and Alaska, the two airlines competing to be the best of the West Coast and the winner is abundantly clear

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

  • Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines are in competition to be the airline of the West Coast.
  • Both are similar but each has its strengths like Alaska has a greater West Coast route network.
  • Southwest is a great option for leisure travelers but Alaska has more perks for business flyers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The West Coast of the US stretches more than 1,000 miles with no shortage of major cities from San Diego to Seattle.

newport beach

All the major US airlines serve this important region of the country but two are battling for dominance, Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Alaska is based in Seattle, although its name suggests otherwise, and is a mid-tier US airline with the bulk of its operations on the West Coast.

alaska airlines

Southwest, on the other hand, is the country’s largest low-cost carrier with a nationwide presence. And while the West Coast is an important region for the airline, it’s just one of many Southwest serves.

Southwest Airlines

Both carriers have sought to grow market share on the West Coast during the pandemic. Southwest added Santa Barbara and Fresno to its California route network while Alaska has added routes from existing cities.

Golden Gate Bridge

I flew on both airlines this year to see which one was truly the airline of the West Coast. Here’s what I found.

Flying on Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Southwest Airlines during the pandemic.

West Coast connectivity: Alaska serves 29 cities up and down the coast, including smaller cities like Everett, Washington; Santa Rosa, California; and Medford, Oregon.

Paine Field in Everett, Washington
Paine Field in Everett, Washington.

Read More: I flew on Alaska for the first time since it stopped blocking middle seats and it was the closest to normal I’ve seen during the pandemic

Southwest serves 15 West Coast cities and plans to serve two more this summer. Bellingham, Washington flights will also open sometime this year.

Southwest Airlines
A Southwest Airlines aircraft departing from Los Angeles.

Winner: Alaska Airlines. The airline’s connectivity between West Coast cities large and small cannot be beaten by Southwest’s existing network.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

What comes with the ticket: Every Southwest ticket includes free seat selection anywhere on the plane after boarding, two checked bags, a carry-on bag, and all the onboard amenities.

Flying Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Flying Southwest Airlines during the pandemic.

Southwest has open seating so any open seat is available for passengers.

Flying on Southwest Airlines COVID-19

Alaska does allow free seat selection for economy but charges extra for seats close to the front and exit row seats.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Alaska, like many full-service carriers, has also embraced restrictive basic economy fares that replaced its cheapest fares. The product is generous with and limited advanced seat assignments and a free carry-on bag but flyers will have to pay more for better seats and checked bags.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Southwest doesn’t have change or cancel fees for any ticket.

Flying on Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Southwest Airlines during the pandemic.

Alaska has eliminated change fees but not for basic economy fares, known as “saver” fares.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Winner: Southwest Airlines. The flexibility and free extras offered by Southwest put it well and above Alaska. It’s worth noting, however, that even Alaska’s basic economy fares are more generous than many of its competitors.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines.
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Boarding: Alaska boards its aircraft in groups that are assigned based on seat location and fare class. First class boards first, followed by elite status holders, those sitting in “premium class.” Economy then boards back to front, for the most part, and basic economy flyers board dead last.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

On Southwest, however, passengers are given a boarding number and group that’s determined by how early they check-in for the flight. Once on the plane, they can select any open seat.

Flying on Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Southwest Airlines during the pandemic.

Winner: Southwest Airlines. Alaska’s boarding process relegates basic economy passengers to the very last section while even the passenger with the cheapest ticket on Southwest has the opportunity to board earlier if they check-in at exactly 24 hours prior to departure.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines.
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Onboard amenities: Both airlines are in the process of modernizing their fleets but older aircraft remain. On Southwest, for example, I flew on the 737-700 fleet on my most recent trip and it was the furthest from modern.

Flying on Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Southwest Airlines during the pandemic.

But its updated aircraft have a great, modern look, as I found on flights from New York to Orlando in 2020.

Flying on Southwest Airlines COVID-19

Read More: I flew on Southwest Airlines during the pandemic and came away impressed by how well the largest low-cost US airline handled social distancing

Alaska has the same issue. Its newer Max aircraft is a show-stopper but older aircraft seem tired.

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max Flight
Flying on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft.

Both airlines also offer paid in-flight WiFi and streaming content.

LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines
Water onboard an Alaska Airlines flight from New York to Los Angeles.

Alaska does surpass Southwest, however, by offering in-seat power to keep devices charged.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Winner: Alaska Airlines. Both airlines offer similar products but Alaska just eeks ahead with in-seat power.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines.
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

In-flight service: Both airlines have restored portions of their in-flight service since the pandemic began. Alaska, for example, serves soft drinks and snacks.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Southwest just brought back Coke, Diet Coke, and 7UP, as well as more snacks.

Flying on Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Southwest Airlines during the pandemic.

Read More: Southwest is reverting to its normal boarding policy and bringing back fan-favorite in-flight amenities

Before the pandemic, however, Alaska sold meals and snack boxes while Southwest just stuck to drinks and small snacks.

LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines
The contents of one of Alaska Airlines’ picnic packs.

Winner: Alaska Airlines.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines.
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

West Coast feel: Alaska has its roots in the West Coast and that shows in its branding. The colors are vibrant, there is a focus on West Coast brands in the in-flight service, and the airline is based in Seattle.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Southwest has a generic appeal as it connects the US through bases across the country with no specific ties to the West Coast. There’s no West Coast feel.

Flying on Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Southwest Airlines during the pandemic.

Winner: Alaska Airlines: There’s an undeniable feeling when flying on Alaska that it’s more in tune with the West Coast vibe than Southwest.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines.
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

National connectivity: Alaska is highly concentrated on the West Coast while Southwest has bases across the US.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Southwest doesn’t have the sprawling West Coast network that Alaska does but it does offer connections between most of the region’s major cities and connections to the rest of the country through its mid-continent bases in places like Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas, and Dallas.

Flying on Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Southwest Airlines aircraft at Denver International Airport.

Alaska only has hubs in the West Coast cities of Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland, requiring a stop in one of those cities before heading east. The airline does partner with airlines like American to offer mixed-airline itineraries but that could be difficult if the airlines are in two different terminals.

LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines aircraft at Los Angeles International Airport.

Winner: Southwest Airlines. Having more mid-continent bases allows for more convenient journeys with lower travel times for customers.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines.
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Business traveler amenities: Corporate travelers have different priorities than most leisure travelers and will often spend more for seats in premium cabins and access lounges.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Alaska has premium lounges in six airports, and partners with American and Qantas on lounge access for members. Southwest does not have any lounges.

Alaska Lounge Seattle
The Alaska Lounge at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Alaska’s jet aircraft also have first class cabins, the domain of the business traveling road warrior, while Southwest does not.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

A special section of economy is also available on Alaska. Called “premium class,” seats in the section offer additional legroom and come with complimentary alcoholic beverages.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Alaska is also a member of the Oneworld airline alliance and Alaska’s elite status holders can use their benefits on other airlines like American and British Airways, and vice versa. Southwest is not a part of any airline alliance.

american airlines

Southwest does have a special fare for business travelers, called “Business Select,” that includes extras like priority boarding and free alcoholic drinks (suspended during the pandemic).

Flying on Southwest Airlines COVID-19

And Southwest does have better connectivity outside of the West Coast. A business traveler in St. Louis looking to fly to New York couldn’t even choose Alaska if they wanted to.

Flying on Southwest Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Southwest Airlines during the pandemic from Miami International Airport.

Winner: Alaska Airlines. Business travelers have more premium amenities at their disposal on Alaska, if the choice is between Alaska and Southwest.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines.
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Airline of the West Coast: Alaska Airlines. Both airlines are incredibly similar but Alaska has more West Coast-oriented amenities to help it pull ahead of Southwest.

Southwest Airlines vs Alaska Airlines.
Comparing Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I flew on Alaska for the first time since it stopped blocking middle seats and it was the closest to normal I’ve seen during the pandemic

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

  • Alaska Airlines is a growing mid-tier US carrier that’s been on the rise in recent years and expanding on both coasts.
  • Middle seats are no longer blocked but there’s still a big emphasis on social distancing.
  • Snacks and beverages are also offered to passengers, with the onboard experience largely normal.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Alaska Airlines has been steadily expanding across the US in recent years since its acquisition of Virgin America, increasing its presence from coast to coast.

LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines - Airbus A320
An Alaska Airlines A320.

While its main sandbox is the West Coast, the airline now operates transcontinental flights from numerous East Coast cities. It’s not as big as the majors in the big four US airlines including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines, but Alaska has been getting its name out there in a big way.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Middle seats on Alaska flights were blocked until January 7, the second-longest seat-blocking tenure of a major US airline behind Delta. Now, flights can be filled nearly to capacity in economy.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Here’s what flying Alaska Airlines is like during the pandemic.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Alaska’s primary hub at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was busier than I expected when I arrived for my Friday afternoon flight to Los Angeles. As the airport’s top carrier, many of those flyers would be flying Alaska.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

The entire Alaska Airlines check-in, however, had been overhauled with new safety features like plexiglass partitions at the counters…

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Social distancing placards in queues…

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Hand sanitizer stations…

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

And wipe stations in between check-in kiosks. It was an impressive start to my trip on the airline.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

And before I even got to the airport, I was required to acknowledge a health agreement. Standard for most major US airlines now, I had to affirm that I haven’t tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 10 days, hadn’t been exposed to the virus in the past 10 days, and hadn’t exhibited symptoms in the past three days, in addition to agreeing to the airline’s mask policy.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

The flight appeared to be largely empty and it was looking good that I’d have a row to myself. Alaska flies near-hourly between Seattle and Los Angeles so there was no shortage of flights available, even during the pandemic.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

I quickly got my ticket from the kiosk and headed to the gate. I hadn’t flown on Alaska since before the pandemic when I flew from New York to LA to get In-n-Out Burger, so I was excited to fly the airline once more.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Read More: I flew from New York to LA and back in a single day just to eat a cheeseburger and gawk at planes – here’s why I’d do it again

The same set of social distancing measures that I found at check-in were also at the gate, including more plexiglass partitions, hand sanitizing stations, and floor placards.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

The airport also had its own social distancing agenda, blocking every other seat in the gate area with placards.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

But while I had hoped for an empty flight, it turned out that this afternoon flight to Los Angeles was very popular with airline employees and standby passengers. There were at least 25 people looking to jump on board this flight, potentially thwarting my chances of an empty row.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Boarding began around 30 minutes prior to departure with Alaska following its normal boarding procedure. Customers board with their assigned group, listed on their boarding passes.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

After pre-boarding, first class boards first followed by Alaska elites and those seated in “premium class.” Regular economy passengers in the back of the plane then board followed by those closer to the front. Basic economy flyers, regardless of seat location, board dead last.

Flying Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

More social distancing placards lined the jetway leading up to the aircraft. “Mind your wingspan” is Alaska’s slogan of choice for social distancing.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Flight attendants welcomed us as we filed into the Boeing 737 Max but nothing in the way of hand sanitizer or sanitary wipes were offered, as some other airlines are doing.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Walking past first class, however, I noticed each seat was given hand sanitizing wipes, a perk that economy class didn’t get.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

I later saw on the airline’s website that they were available “on request.”

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Source: Alaska Airlines

The plane was spotless, however, as is to be expected since this was a brand-new plane that only began flying for Alaska a few days prior.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Alaska, like most airlines, disinfects aircraft using electrostatic spraying, or “fogging.”

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Read More: Delta, United, and American are ‘fogging’ their planes to make them safe for travel amid coronavirus — here’s what that means

Aircraft are also cleaned by crews before each flight, the airline says.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Source: Alaska Airlines

The cleaning measures truly showed. I had no concerns whatsoever about the cleanliness of the plane.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

I chose seat 28F for the two-hour flight to Los Angeles, a window seat on the right side of the plane facing forward.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Everything from the seat area to the tray tables was spotless.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Alaska even had some of its new safety protocols listed in this booklet with a website link where flyers could view the full spread of measures being taken by the airline to keep passengers safe.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

This flight would feature an in-flight drink and snack service with nine different hot and cold beverages on offer ranging from Coke to orange juice.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

The rest of the plane slowly filled up and Alaska’s boarding procedure meant the front filled out before the back. Those boarding last would have to walk through an entire plane full of people if they were seated in the back.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Flight attendants during the boarding process continually reminded passengers that they were “obligated” to wear a face mask.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

One flight attendant was also walking around with masks to give to flyers that needed.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Even the safety briefing included a reminder that wearing a mask while flying is now federal law. Passengers were asked to report any offenses to flight attendants.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

The flight departed with quite a few middle seats open. Alaska doesn’t currently block middle seats in regular economy as of January 7 so having any seats open was pure luck.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Flight attendants also worked to space passengers by moving them into empty rows. The aisle seat in my row, for example, was given to a passenger that was in a crowded row.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Soon enough, we were airborne and bound for Los Angeles.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Flight attendants quickly began the in-flight service, starting with snacks.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

The bag included a variety of items from pretzels to flaxseed chips.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Then the drink cart came around and gloved flight attendants distributed full beverage cans accompanied by a cup of ice and hand sanitizing wipes. Printed on the napkin was a message asking flyers to put their masks on between bites and sips.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Once the service was over, I took a walk around the plane and only found a few passengers flouting the mask rule. Compliance, for the most part, was good.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Alaska also isn’t afraid to ban passengers for not wearing a mask. Almost 450 flyers have been banned as of March 17.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Read More: Airlines have banned more than 2,500 passengers for not wearing masks — here are the carriers that have booted the most

The rest of the flight was spent enjoying the views of the West Coast as we headed towards Los Angeles.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

Alaska, overall, has largely returned to normal when it comes to things like boarding and the in-flight service. I was surprised to see how much was on offer compared to other airlines.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

I was also impressed by the airline’s investment in social distancing measures at its Seattle hub, with everything from hand sanitizing stations to floor placards.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

And even though it meant I didn’t get the row to myself, I appreciated flight attendants being proactive in moving people around to distance flyers when possible.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

The routine flight down the coast was largely uneventful and soon enough, it was time to land in Los Angeles.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

After we landed, flight attendants reminded passengers to social distance when deplaning.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

But most passengers just wanted off and didn’t mind crowding the aisle, as is normal when flying regardless of whether there’s an ongoing pandemic.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Southwest just placed a landmark multibillion-dollar order for 100 of Boeing’s smallest 737 Max plane

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8
A Southwest Boeing 737 Max 8.

  • Southwest Airlines just placed an order for 100 Boeing 737 Max 7 aircraft with options for 200 more.
  • The $10 billion deal is a victory for Boeing over Airbus and its A220 aircraft that was reportedly being considered.
  • The first 30 737 Max 7 aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2022.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Southwest Airlines has settled on the Boeing 737 Max 7 as the successor of its Boeing 737-700 fleet, announcing a finalized order with the manufacturer on Monday for 100 aircraft and options for 155 more.

The deal brings Southwest’s new Boeing 737 Max order total to 349 aircraft consisting of 200 of the smaller Max 7s and 149 of the larger Max 8s, some of which are already flying passengers. An additional 270 Max aircraft of either variety are also available to Southwest, on option, between 2021 and 2031.

Boeing’s current list prices value the 100 aircraft at around $10 billion. Airlines, however, rarely pay list price and Boeing has been known to discount Max aircraft as a result of the grounding.

Whatever Southwest did pay, however, Boeing can declare victory over Airbus as the European manufacturer’s A220 aircraft was reportedly being considered by Southwest to be the replacement aircraft. Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways had alternatively chosen the Airbus aircraft, which boasts similar characteristics and cost savings when compared to the Max 7.

But Southwest’s decision comes as no surprise since the 737 Max 7 is the next-generation variant of the 737-700 that it’s replacing at Southwest and the airline doesn’t have to worry about inducting another manufacturer’s aircraft into its already streamlined fleet. Pilots already flying the 737 and 737 Max can fly the Max 7 with very little additional training and the same goes for mechanics tasked with servicing the fleet.

“This cost-effective order book with Boeing allows the company to maintain the operational efficiencies of an all-Boeing 737 fleet to support its low-cost, point-to-point route network,” Southwest said in a statement.

Southwest resumed flying the Boeing 737 Max on March 11 after an absence of nearly two years following the aircraft’s March 2019 grounding. By the end of April, as many as 261 Southwest Max flights will be flown daily, according to Cirium data.

The smaller Boeing 737 Max 7 has yet to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration as of mid-March, according to Reuters, a process delayed due to the aircraft’s grounding. Boeing had initially planned to certify the aircraft in 2019 after its first flight in 2018.

Read More: The 16 most outrageous things Boeing employees said about the company, 737 Max program, and each other in released internal emails

But FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, a former airline pilot, personally flew the aircraft during the recertification trials for the Max following its March 2019 grounding. Southwest is slated to be the first airline to fly the Max 7 with the first delivery scheduled for 2022 after its certification.

The Max 7 can seat as many as 172 passengers, according to Boeing, while flying the furthest of any Max variant thanks to its smaller size. Any route in Southwest’s current network can be flown by the Max 7 and new ones can be forged.

With a range of 3,850 nautical miles, city pairs like Denver-Honolulu, Boston-Anchorage, and even New York-London are possible should Southwest want to stretch the aircraft’s legs. The competing Airbus A220-300 boasts only a 3,400 nautical mile range and maximum seating of 160 passengers, according to Airbus.

Southwest will end 2020 with 729 aircraft, 68 of which are Boeing 737 Max 8s.

Read the original article on Business Insider

An influential airline exec is sounding the alarm on Boeing and its leadership over the 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner scandals

Emirates Tim Clark
Sir Tim Clark, president of the Middle Eastern mega carrier Emirates.

  • Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates, is concerned about Boeing’s continued issues on its newest planes.
  • Clark cited issues with the Boeing 737 Max, 787 Dreamliner, and 777X aircraft in a recent interview.
  • The 737 Max was just ungrounded after issues with the aircraft’s software caused two crashes.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Most airlines are ready to move on from Boeing’s 737 Max crisis following the plane’s 20-month grounding – but one executive continues to sound the alarm about the company’s performance in recent years.

Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates, criticized the manufacturer’s leadership and recent problems with three of its important planes in an interview with The Air Current published Tuesday. Specifically, Clark criticized Boeing’s 737 Max, 787 Dreamliner, and 777X, all of which have been marred by safety concerns, quality control issues, and production delays.

The problem, he says, stems from Boeing’s board of directors.

“Culpability for the culture, strategy, direction, priority of that company rests with the Boeing board and nobody else, Clark told The Air Current. “And that’s where the buck should stop. And that’s where they need to get themselves sorted out.”

Clark has long been outspoken over the issues at Boeing, levying similar complaints in a January Reuters interview: “Clearly there were process and practices, attitudes – DNA if you like – that needed to be resolved from the top down,” he said at the time.

Boeing shuffled its top leadership amid the Max grounding, firing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and installing Dave Calhoun, a board member, as his replacement. But Clark said it wasn’t enough: “It is pointless shuffling the deck.”

“Boeing need to take a good hard look at themselves; I’m sure they have,” he continued.

Emirates operates hundreds of Boeing 777 aircraft and will be the first airline to take delivery of the upcoming 777X. The largest twin-engine jet aircraft in the world, the 777X has been delayed again until late 2023, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Emirates is also set to receive a 787 Dreamliner in 2023 following a 2019 order.

Both the 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner have been under near-constant scrutiny in recent years following safety and quality control issues. The 737 Max, notably, causing the deaths of 346 passengers across two crashes due to a software issue.

Quality control issues at Boeing’s South Carolina plant have called the Dreamliner’s safety into question and prompted additional groundings. Boeing may have to spend additional hundreds of millions to resolve the issues.

Emirates doesn’t operate the 737 Max and has largely been spared of those issues. The plane returned to the skies in November, and has flown more than 2,700 flights since. Meanwhile orders have been pouring in from airlines including United Airlines, Ryanair, and Alaska Airlines.

Still, Clark remains a vocal critic of the aircraft as it returns.

“I regret having to say all this, but I kind of, I think it needs to be said, otherwise, we’re just going to move on our of the Max era, as if nothing happened,” Clark told The Air Current.

Only two Max flights have encountered issues since the ungrounding, and both were due to engine incidents unrelated to the faulty software that brought down the Max aircraft. An American Airlines flight, most recently, was forced to land with one engine shut down due to a mechanical issue.

Canada’s WestJet also scrapped a Boeing 737 Max flight after its pilots encountered an engine warning light that the airline said required an engine run, a spokesperson told CBC. The airline, which used the Max for flights as far as Hawaii and Europe prior to the grounding, has since resumed flights without issue.

Boeing declined to comment for The Air Current story and when asked by Insider about Clark’s concerns,

“I believe they still have work to do in Boeing to get themselves sorted out,” Clark told Reuters. “There is a top-down culpability and accountability and they need to recognize that.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Emirates’ president continues to slam Boeing and its leadership over the 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner scandals

Emirates Tim Clark
Sir Tim Clark, president of the Middle Eastern mega carrier Emirates.

  • Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates, is concerned about Boeing’s continued issues on its newest planes.
  • Clark cited issues with the Boeing 737 Max, 787 Dreamliner, and 777X aircraft in a recent interview.
  • The 737 Max was just ungrounded after issues with the aircraft’s software caused two crashes.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Most airlines are ready to move on from Boeing’s 737 Max crisis following the plane’s 20-month grounding – but one executive continues to sound the alarm about the company’s performance in recent years.

Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates, criticized the manufacturer’s leadership and recent problems with three of its important planes in an interview with The Air Current published Tuesday. Specifically, Clark criticized Boeing’s 737 Max, 787 Dreamliner, and 777X, all of which have been marred by safety concerns, quality control issues, and production delays.

The problem, he says, stems from Boeing’s board of directors.

“Culpability for the culture, strategy, direction, priority of that company rests with the Boeing board and nobody else, Clark told The Air Current. “And that’s where the buck should stop. And that’s where they need to get themselves sorted out.”

Clark has long been outspoken over the issues at Boeing, levying similar complaints in a January Reuters interview: “Clearly there were process and practices, attitudes – DNA if you like – that needed to be resolved from the top down,” he said at the time.

Boeing shuffled its top leadership amid the Max grounding, firing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and installing Dave Calhoun, a board member, as his replacement. But Clark said it wasn’t enough: “It is pointless shuffling the deck.”

“Boeing need to take a good hard look at themselves; I’m sure they have,” he continued.

Emirates operates hundreds of Boeing 777 aircraft and will be the first airline to take delivery of the upcoming 777X. The largest twin-engine jet aircraft in the world, the 777X has been delayed again until late 2023, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Emirates is also set to receive a 787 Dreamliner in 2023 following a 2019 order.

Both the 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner have been under near-constant scrutiny in recent years following safety and quality control issues. The 737 Max, notably, causing the deaths of 346 passengers across two crashes due to a software issue.

Quality control issues at Boeing’s South Carolina plant have called the Dreamliner’s safety into question and prompted additional groundings. Boeing may have to spend additional hundreds of millions to resolve the issues.

Emirates doesn’t operate the 737 Max and has largely been spared of those issues. The plane returned to the skies in November, and has flown more than 2,700 flights since. Meanwhile orders have been pouring in from airlines including United Airlines, Ryanair, and Alaska Airlines.

Still, Clark remains a vocal critic of the aircraft as it returns.

“I regret having to say all this, but I kind of, I think it needs to be said, otherwise, we’re just going to move on our of the Max era, as if nothing happened,” Clark told The Air Current.

Only two Max flights have encountered issues since the ungrounding, and both were due to engine incidents unrelated to the faulty software that brought down the Max aircraft. An American Airlines flight, most recently, was forced to land with one engine shut down due to a mechanical issue.

Canada’s WestJet also scrapped a Boeing 737 Max flight after its pilots encountered an engine warning light that the airline said required an engine run, a spokesperson told CBC. The airline, which used the Max for flights as far as Hawaii and Europe prior to the grounding, has since resumed flights without issue.

Boeing declined to comment for The Air Current story and when asked by Insider about Clark’s concerns,

“I believe they still have work to do in Boeing to get themselves sorted out,” Clark told Reuters. “There is a top-down culpability and accountability and they need to recognize that.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Southwest Airlines just resumed Boeing 737 Max flights and may go all-in with a reported order for ‘dozens’ of new jets

Southwest Boeing 737 Max
Southwest Airlines’ grounded Boeing 737 Max fleet.

  • Southwest Airlines resumed flights with the Boeing 737 Max on Thursday.
  • The day has 32 departures planned to 15 different cities in the strongest Max resumption of any US airline.
  • Southwest is reportedly nearing a deal for “dozens” of new Boeing 737 Max 7 jets, Reuters reported.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Southwest Airlines is all in on the Boeing 737 Max.

Passenger flights on the aircraft for the Dallas-based carrier resumed on Thursday in the latest milestone for Boeing’s infamous jet. The first four flights departed from cities across the US at 8 a.m. Dallas time, just two days short of the two-year anniversary of the Federal Aviation Administration’s order to ground the aircraft on the heels of a fatal Max crash in Ethiopia.

Southwest started the day strong with 32 flights planned to 15 cities in an opening salvo unrivaled by any of its competitors in their Max debuts. American Airlines, for example, started with just two daily departures and United Airlines started with 24. Alaska Airlines, with only one aircraft in its fleet, started with four departures on its first day.

But Southwest has also waited the longest to get the Max back in the air, a surprising choice considering the low-cost carrier had the largest pre-grounding fleet of 34-strong Max aircraft.

The first flights are the culmination of over 200 proving flights that the airline has performed with the Max since its November ungrounding as part of its return to service. Southwest pilots flying the Max are also now required to undergo training in a 737 Max simulator and classroom setting, which was not required before the grounding.

“To be clear, I have the utmost confidence in our ability to safely operate the Boeing 737 MAX 8,” CEO Gary Kelly said in a letter to customers. Kelly was aboard one of the proving flights, describing it as “quiet and smooth.”

The same 15 cities are slated to see the Max in March, per current Cirium data, including Atlanta; Fort Myers, Florida; Baltimore; New Orleans; Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix; Denver; Orlando, Florida; Chicago; Houston, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; Salt Lake City; Las Vegas; San Antonio, Texas; and Portland, Oregon. After a month, however, the Max will quickly grow in the US with Southwest planning 252 daily departures starting April 12, according to Cirium.

Hawaii is a likely destination for the Max in the future as travelers flock to the islands for a tropical reprieve amid the pandemic. Southwest’s pre-grounding schedule shows that the airline considers the Max to be truly interchangeable with its current fleet and will fly both the longest and shortest flights in the airline’s route map.

Travelers still uncertain about flying on the Max can opt to switch flights free of charge, a policy adopted by all four US airlines operating the aircraft.

A massive new Boeing 737 Max order

March 10, a date that was slated to commemorate the loss of life on Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 in 2019, became a hopeful day for Boeing as reports indicated Southwest was nearing a deal to buy more Max aircraft from the manufacturer, Reuters reported.

Southwest is eyeing the 737 Max 7, the smallest aircraft in the Max family and one that’s yet to enter commercial service with any airline. If the order comes to fruition, the Max 7 aircraft will gradually replace the 737-700 Next Generation aircraft in Southwest’s fleet.

Boeing and Southwest declined to comment on the deal.

Southwest had driven a hard bargain to secure a favorable deal, even suggesting it might consider taking on the Airbus A220, the smallest aircraft in the European plane maker’s lineup. The order for “dozens” of Max jets is reported to be in the billions, with the list price of $99.7 million per jet, and would put another high-profile order between Boeing and the Max grounding.

The Max 7 could fly any of Southwest’s current routes, including those to Hawaii, thanks to its superior range. Its cost-saving economics combined with commonality with the larger Boeing fleet means Southwest can easily swap the aircraft in on underperforming flights to minimize losses, which may be critical if aviation’s recovery from the pandemic is protracted.

“I would not hesitate for a second to put my wife, daughters, and sons-in-law, and granddaughters onboard the plane,” Kelly said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Airlines continue to flock to the Boeing 737 Max as it debuts on Alaska and United places a massive new order

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max
An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max.

  • Alaska Airlines began passenger flights with the Boeing 737 Max on Monday.
  • The first day of flights saw two round-trips, the first from Seattle to San Diego, California.
  • United Airlines just placed an order for an additional 25 Boeing 737 Max aircraft.  
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Boeing’s most notorious aircraft is having a great start to March with two milestones to kick off the month. 

Alaska Airlines began passenger service with the Boeing 737 Max on Monday after a long-delayed start. Flight AS482 departed to San Diego from the airline’s hub in Seattle in the early morning hours of the day and arrived without issue before departing back for Seattle.

The first flight was the culmination of more than 19,000 miles and 50 hours of proving flights performed in the weeks since the aircraft’s delivery to Alaska. The airline’s sole Boeing 737 Max 9 was flown as far from Seattle as Charleston, South Carolina; Kailua-Kona, Hawaii; and Juneau, Alaska throughout February, FlightAware data shows. 

Alaska is the fourth US airline to fly the Max and initially planned to start service during the summer of 2019 until the March 2019 grounding delayed those planes. The first Max delivery to Alaska only occurred in January, just two months following the Federal Aviation Administration’s ungrounding order that was quickly echoed by countless regulators around the world.

Executives were confident in the aircraft and its cost-saving abilities even before the first model arrived at Alaska’s Seattle-Tacoma International Airport hub. Boeing’s loyal customer ended 2020 with firm orders for 68 aircraft, up from an initial 32-aircraft order, and options for 52 more before the first proving flight was even flown. 

More airlines have also relaunched Max service following the ungrounding as countries and regions like Canada, the EU, and Brazil have approved the aircraft to return to the skies. Boeing said in late January that more than 2,700 flights had already been by the Max since the ungrounding

Alaska has only four daily departures are planned with the aircraft until March 18 when its second Max enters passenger service. Los Angeles and San Diego are currently the only cities receiving Max visits on flights from Seattle, according to Cirium data, and eventually from Portland, Oregon. 

The aircraft will primarily stay on the West Coast until more aircraft are added but the proving flights reveal the airline likely has plans for East Coast and Hawaii Max flights. Alaska will be able to take the Max south of the border to Mexico, the airline’s largest international destination region, and Costa Rica as both countries have given the aircraft a green light to fly in their airspace. 

United places more Max orders

United Airlines is also pressing forward with the Max on the heels of a successful relaunch. Andrew Nocella, the airline’s chief commercial officer, told staff in a memo that 25 new Boeing 737 Max aircraft were just ordered and deliveries of 45 previously ordered aircraft have been moved up. 

“These new aircraft represent the best the industry has to offer in terms of customer amenities, experience and comfort,” Nocella said in the memo, which United shared with Insider. “In fact, flights on our MAX aircraft in 2018 and 2019 had the highest average customer satisfaction score of any large narrowbody aircraft.”

The relaunch of United’s Max aircraft kicked off on February 11 with the first flight uneventfully journeying from Denver to Houston, Texas, with Insider onboard. United has steadily increased the number of Max flights and is on track to go from 24 daily departures on February 11 to 96 by the end of March, according to Cirium.

Jonathan Roitman, United’s chief operating officer, told Insider after the first flight that the Max name hasn’t driven too many passengers away from the aircraft. Many on the first flight didn’t even know they were flying on a Max, despite United’s warnings when booking a flight on the Max and the aircraft’s name on airport signage and onboard safety cards

Both United and Alaska are the only two US airlines flying the Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft, the largest variant in commercial service. 

Southwest Airlines is the only US airline to fly that Max that hasn’t relaunched operations, with its Max relaunch expected in March.

Read the original article on Business Insider