Oct. 9 (UPI) -- American Airlines removed the Boeing 737 Max 8 from its schedules through mid-January as it anticipates a continued delay of the troubled passenger jet returning to the skies, the airline said Wednesday.
The move dashed hopes that the airplane would be available for the critical holiday season. Boeing had said it believed the Federal Aviation Administration would clear the plane to fly again during the fourth quarter.
"American Airlines anticipates that the impending software updates to the Boeing 737 MAX will lead to recertification of the aircraft later this year and resumption of commercial service in January 2020," a statement from American Airlines said.
American said about 140 flights will be canceled per day through Jan. 15. Customers currently booked on the aircraft through Jan. 6 will be moved to 737-800 planes with the same seat configuration and no additional rebooking will be required. It said customers will be contacted starting Oct. 13 about changes and possible flight cancellations.
"American expects to slowly phase in the MAX for commercial service and will increase flying on the aircraft throughout the month and into February," the airline said. "Since American will slowly phase the MAX in our operation over the course of a month, additional refinements to our schedule may occur through Feb. 12."
United Airlines said it will not start using its 737 Max 9s again until Dec. 19, while Southwest Airlines will not have its fleet on the schedule again until Jan. 5.
Southwest pilots filed a $100 million lawsuit against Boeing this week, accusing the airplane maker of "deliberately misleading" pilots and the airline of the plane's airworthiness. The Max 8 was involved in two crashes within six months overseas, leading to its grounding worldwide in March. American and Southwest are the only U.S. carriers that fly the Max 8.