According to a forecast by Airlines for America published on Tuesday, there would be a 3.4 per cent increase in the number of passengers compared to the previous year between June 1 and the end of August. That would put the American aviation industry on track to record the highest number of passengers – about 257.4 million in that period, the forecast said.
The trade group said that this record passenger number would be the 10th straight rise in air travel in the late-spring and peak summer seasons which would be driven by strong economic growth and a robust job market.
The continued grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft after the two deadly crashes, has created a handicap for those US airlines – including the largest ones, that has amassed a large fleet of the aircrafts and therefore even though this increase in air passengers is good news for airliners, there could be some pressure in accommodating the demand.
Following the deadly accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia within a time span of just five months of one another which killed a total of 346 people, the Boeing 737 Max – the fast-selling aircraft of the company, was founded by aviation authorities all across the world which also includes the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
That grounding has resulted in airlines having to cancel flights during peak spring and summer demand which has caused significant customer discomfort.
About 115 flights a day through August 19 had been cancelled by American Airlines because it has removed all of its 24 Boeing 737 Max aircrafts in its fleet from its flight schedules. The cancelled flights account for about 1.5 per cent of the total daily summer schedule of the carrier.
Another large airline of the US, Southwest Airlines, has 34 Boeing 737 Max planes in its fleet of a total of about 750 planes. The carrier also removed all of the 737 Max aircrafts from its flight schedules till August which has amounted to cancellations of about 160 flights from the schedule each day.
“I do not know when the MAX will be returned to service, I am hopeful it will be this summer,” Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in a shareholder meeting last week.
Last Thursday, Boeing said that it had completed upgrading of a software for the 737 Max crafts and is currently waiting to get a clearance from the FAA review following a review of the system on the craft which has been fitted with the upgrade. An approval from the FAA would allow 737 Max-es to be flown by the US airlines again.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)