Southwest Airlines is extending cancellations of flights scheduled on its Boeing 737 Max aircraft through 2 November, following a similar move by American Airlines as safety regulators continue reviewing Boeing's updates to the aircraft.
Customers whose flights are affected are being notified of their re-accommodated travel, the Dallas-based airline says in a statement.
"By proactively removing the Max from scheduled service, we can reduce last-minute flight cancellations and unexpected disruptions to our customers' travel plans," Southwest says in a statement. "The revision will proactively remove roughly 180 daily flights from our schedule out of our total peak-day schedule of more than 4,000 daily flights."
Southwest in June extended cancellations of flights on its Max fleet through 1 October, but in an internal memo chief executive Gary Kelly predicted cancellations beyond October because of additional problems identified during US Federal Aviation Administration flight tests.
FAA pilots in June uncovered a data processing issue on Max aircraft that affected their ability to counteract a runaway stabiliser trim. The issue is separate but related to the flight control error that preceded two fatal crashes of 737 Max aircraft. That error automatically trimmed the aircraft into dives. The runaway stabiliser procedure is the means by which pilots have been instructed to address uncommanded nose-down trim.
Southwest had operated the largest fleet of 737 Max aircraft prior to the global grounding, with 34 737 Max 8 aircraft in service.
Airlines have responded to the grounding by flying alternate aircraft, cancelling flights and paying maintenance teams overtime to keep remaining aircraft flying.