Alaska Airlines has taken a bit of a nosedive.
The airline will lose a whopping $150 million after the grounding of its Boeing 737 Max 9 planes, CNBC reported on Thursday. The jets have been out of commission for about three weeks, following an incident in which the door plug of an Alaska plane blew out during a flight in early January.
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“I’m more than frustrated and disappointed,” Ben Minicucci, the CEO of Alaska Airlines, told NBC News earlier this week. “I am angry.”
Alaska and United Airlines, the two U.S. companies that use the Max 9, have both expressed displeasure with Boeing over the plane’s issues. After the Alaska incident on January 5, both airlines inspected their Max 9 planes and found loose bolts on several of them.
The grounding has even led to longer-term issues for Alaska, which had earlier said that it expected to increase its capacity 3 to 5 percent in 2024. However, “given the grounding, and the potential for future delivery delays, the company expects capacity growth to be at or below the lower end of this range,” it said.
If there’s any good news in the Max 9 saga, it’s that the Federal Aviation Administration approved on Wednesday a plan that would allow the planes to return to the skies. Alaska said that it would start using its Max 9s as early as Friday, and that the jet would be phased back into service throughout early February. United said that it would begin flying the Max 9 on Sunday.
“Let me be clear: This won’t be back to business as usual for Boeing,” Mike Whitaker, the FAA administrator, said in a statement. “We will not agree to any request from Boeing for an expansion in production or approve additional production lines for the 737 MAX until we are satisfied that the quality control issues uncovered during this process are resolved.”
The early-January Alaska incident roiled the aviation industry: As Flight 1282 left Portland, Oregon, a fuselage panel blew out, shocking passengers and crew. In the aftermath, hundreds of flights had to be canceled, frustrating both travelers and the airline companies.
While Alaska and United will regain some capacity in the weeks ahead, their bottom line may still be a bit worse for wear.
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