Southwest and American airlines, the biggest U.S. operators of the Boeing 737 Max 8, say they stand by the new plane despite two fatal crashes in less than five months.
Their continued support comes as more of the new planes are being grounded by other airlines and aviation authorities. Ethiopian Airlines grounded its four remaining 737 Max 8s until further notice “as an extra safety precaution” in the wake of the crash and Cayman Airways said it was temporarily grounded its two Max 8s. In addition, China and Indonesia ordered airlines there to ground the plane.
And it comes despite a barrage of questions and concerns from worried passengers since the Sunday crash.
Southwest has a variety of responses to concerned travelers, but they all make the same general point: We’re standing by the plane.
“We remain confident in the safety of our fleet of more than 750 Boeing aircraft,” the airline said in one response Monday morning. “Southwest has operated approximately 31,000 flights utilizing the Boeing 737 Max, and we plan on operating those aircraft going forward.”
Southwest Airlines has 34 175-seat Max 8s in its fleet and plans to more than double that number this year as well as add its first Boeing Max 7s.
Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said the airline is in contact with Boeing and will stay close to the investigation as it progresses.
“We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of our fleet of more than 750 Boeing aircraft,” he said.
Southwest is telling passengers who ask how they can find out what type of plane they are due to fly to check back a day before their trip to see the type of aircraft as they aren’t assigned far in advance.