Alaska, United cancel flights for Boeing 737 MAX 9 inspections

Alaska and United combined to cancel about 600 flights involving the Boeing 737 MAX 9 for inspections after Friday's panel blow out

Alaska Airlines and United Airlines have canceled hundreds of flights this weekend that were scheduled to be flown using the Boeing 737 MAX 9, which has been grounded for inspections after a panel blew off the fuselage of a flight from Portland, Oregon, on Friday and caused a cabin depressurization.

Alaska and United are the two main U.S. air carriers that operate the Boeing 737 MAX 9, one of which lost a door plug panel on an Alaska flight at about 16,000 feet of altitude after taking off from Portland on Friday en route to Ontario, California. The airlines combined to cancel about 600 flights throughout the weekend to allow their MAX 9 aircraft to be inspected.

The door plug panel is installed on MAX 9 aircraft for airlines that choose not to configure it to seat its maximum capacity of 220 people, which would require its use as an emergency exit. No serious injuries were reported in the incident, though some passengers were treated for injuries and medically. The aircraft safely returned to Portland after the blow out occurred. No passengers were in the seats closest to the blown-out plug door, and both chairs sustained damage.

The airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) moved to ground the Boeing 737 MAX 9 airliners that have the plug door to allow for inspections of other aircraft with that configuration. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is also investigating the incident.

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE BOEING 737 MAX 9 PANEL THAT BLEW OFF IN MID-AIR

United flight takes off from Los Angeles

United Airlines canceled about 270 flights over the weekend that involved 737 MAX 9 aircraft, while 145 were changed to use other aircraft. (PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Alaska, which operates 65 737 MAX 9 aircraft in its fleet, canceled 170 flights on Sunday which the company said affected roughly 25,000 travelers a day after the Seattle-based airline canceled 160 flights on Saturday, which affected about 23,000 travelers. It added that it expects "additional significant cancellations through the first half of the week."

"We are awaiting further information from both the FAA and Boeing to begin the required inspections on the door plug of our 737-9 MAX fleet and will share information as we’re able," Alaska added in a statement. 

Alaska had inspected and cleared 18 of its 737 MAX 9 aircraft earlier on Saturday before the FAA issued its emergency airworthiness directive, after which those aircraft were also grounded while awaiting word from the FAA and Boeing about any additional work needed.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
UAL UNITED AIRLINES HOLDINGS INC. 41.80 -1.24 -2.88%
ALK ALASKA AIR GROUP INC. 41.30 -1.37 -3.21%
BA THE BOEING CO. 169.55 -3.81 -2.20%

WATCH: ALASKA AIRLINES PASSENGER CAPTURES HORRIFYING MOMENTS AFTER PLANE PART BLEW OFF MID-AIR

Alaska Boeing 737 MAX 9

Alaska canceled about 330 flights involving its 737 MAX 9 fleet over the weekend following the blow out on Friday. ((Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) / Getty Images)

"Service on United’s Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft remains temporarily suspended while it conducts inspections required by the FAA," United Airlines told FOX Business in a statement. "We’re continuing to work with the FAA to clarify the inspection process and requirements for returning all MAX 9 aircraft to service. 

"We are working with customers to reaccommodate them on other flights and in some cases have been able to avoid cancellations by switching to other aircraft types," United added.

United said that it has 79 Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft in its fleet. It had 273 flights scheduled for Saturday, of which 90 were canceled and nearly 60 were saved by using other aircraft; while it canceled about 180 of 265 flights scheduled for Sunday, with 85 saved through the use of other aircraft.

Boeing 737 MAX 9

A door plug panel on the fuselage of a Boeing 737 MAX 9 blew out on a flight from Portland, Oregon, to Ontario, California, which resulted in the grounding of Alaska and United's MAX 9 fleets to allow for inspections. (Photographer: David Ryder/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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The airline has parked all of its MAX 9 aircraft and is beginning preliminary inspections while awaiting final instructions from the FAA and Boeing.