Alaska Airlines has cancelled all of its Boeing 737 Max 9 flights through 13 January in the aftermath of the 5 January incident in which parts of one such aircraft’s fuselage blew off during a flight from Portland, Oregon to Southern California. 

The carrier grounded its Max 9s hours after the aircraft made an emergency landing in Portland. 

In an update on 10 January, the Seattle-headquartered carrier said all 65 of its Max 9 jets remain out of service while it awaits documentation from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration to begin inspection of its next-generation narrowbody jets. 

Alaska 737 Max 9-c-Alaska Airlines

Source: Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines operates the most 737 Max 9s outside of United Airlines’ 79-strong fleet of the type 

The decision to keep the jets grounded through 13 January will result in the cancellation of 110-150 daily flights, Alaska says. 

”We regret the signficant disruption… due to these aircraft being out of service,” the airline says. “However, the safety of our employees and guests is our highest priority and we will only return these aircraft service when all findings have been fully resolved and meet all FAA and Alaska’s stringent standards.” 

“We hope this action provides guests with a little more certainty, and we are working around the clock to reaccommodate impacted guests on other flights,” Alaska adds. It also has a system-wide travel waiver in place until 13 January for customers who no longer wish to fly.

The incident on 5 January involved a three-month-old Max 9 aircraft operating as flight 1282 and carrying 171 passengers and six crew members. Shortly after take-off, a door “plug” over a deactivated mid-cabin emergency exit blew off the fuselage, causing rapid depressurisation of the cabin and leaving a hole in the side of the jet. 

On 6 January, the FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive grounding Max 9s with such door plugs until those aircraft are cleared to return to service. Max 9 operators around the world have been grounding the type as the safety scare spreads. 

Alaska currently awaits a final multi-operator message from Boeing to provide inspection details for the Max 9, as well as instructions for inspection processes to comply with the FAA’s airworthiness directive.