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The Boeing 737 MAX grounding has strained operations and finances this year at several North American airlines, but executives caution the jetliner needs to be reintroduced to fleets in a gradual, coordinated way once authorities certify it to fly so they have time to build passenger bookings and conduct their own tests.
A controlled rollout presumably also would give cargo divisions better ability to fill belly space with shipments from freight forwarders, although the narrow-body planes like the MAX only carry a modest amount of freight on domestic flights, as an earlier FreightWaves analysis showed.
Once the Federal Aviation Administration lifts the grounding, Boeing should give customers plenty of notice about the planned cadence for producing new aircraft and delivering parked ones, Andrew Nocella, United Airlines chief commercial officer, said this week at the Cowen & Co. transportation investor conference in Boston.
“We’ve told them that there’s nothing that physically prevents us from taking as many aircraft as they can deliver to us. They’re going to be the constraint on that. However, what we’ve also said is they can’t call us today and say, ‘Hey, there’s an aircraft for you tomorrow,’ because it takes us time to work it back in the schedule to then be able to sell tickets on it,” he said.