Southwest pilots union concerned about speed of 737 MAX return

The 737 MAX has been grounded since March.

The head of the Southwest Airlines pilot union is criticizing Boeing and asking whether the maker of the grounded 737 MAX is trying to speed the aircraft's return to service.

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Boeing's best-selling 737 MAX has been grounded since March, after two deadly crashes in five months killed 346 people.

In a note to pilots on Wednesday, Jon Weaks, head of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said, "Boeing is increasingly publicizing that they may have to shut down their production line due to running out of room to store completed MAX aircraft. There is some concern that this is simply another tactic to push the (return to service) timeline up."

A number of Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are parked at Southern California Logistics Airport on March 27, 2019 in Victorville, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Federal officials told Reuters this week that Boeing's timetable is aggressive and far from certain.

Boeing did not immediately comment to Reuters late Wednesday.

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On Friday, Southwest and American Airlines extended Boeing 737 MAX cancellations until early March.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
BABOEING COMPANY354.09+8.41+2.43%
LUVSOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.55.94+0.41+0.74%
AALAMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC.27.73+0.48+1.78%

Last month, SWAPA sued Boeing, saying it had "deliberately misled" the airline and pilots. The grounding wiped out more than 30,000 Southwest Airlines flights, causing over $100 million in lost wages for pilots, the union said.

Weaks said in the note, "Boeing will never, and should not ever, be given the benefit of the doubt again, The combination of arrogance, ignorance and greed should and will haunt Boeing for eternity."

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He also supports the idea of Southwest looking to obtain different and possibly non-Boeing aircraft.