United is suspending a route because of the Boeing 737 Max grounding

Posted at 5:58 AM, Jul 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-30 07:58:11-04

The continued grounding of the Boeing 737 Max has forced United Airlines to suspend a route.

Beginning September 3, United will temporarily suspend service between its hub in Chicago and Leon, a city in central Mexico. It currently offers one daily round trip flight between the cities.

The carrier said the suspension will “help mitigate issues resulting from the grounding of the Max aircraft.” United has 14 Boeing 737 Max 9 jets in its fleet.

United will still continue to serve Leon from Houston, where it operates four daily flights.

The Chicago to Leon route doesn’t use a Boeing 737 Max, but a smaller regional jet called the Embraer 175. To make up for the loss of its 737 Max planes, United needs to reroute other aircraft to maintain service.

United is the second US airline to suspend or cancel a route because of the problem. American previously announced it was canceling a nonstop roundtrip flight between Dallas and Oakland, California.

Earlier this month, United said that it’s buying 19 used Boeing 737-700 aircraft to maintain capacity as the 737 Max grounding hit its fifth month. It’s being forced to cancel flights until at least early November because of the grounding.

The 737 Max grounding is also hurting United’s rivals.

Southwest Airlines previously announced it will cease operations at Newark Liberty International Airport in the fall because of the grounding. The airline explained the decision was to “mitigate damages and optimize our aircraft” to other more profitable cities. Southwest has 34 of the 737 Max planes in its fleet, the most of any US airline.

American Airlines said it will take a $400 million profit hit because of the prolonged 737 Max grounding. The airline, which has 24 Max planes, announced it’s extending cancellations until November 2.

Boeing warned last week that it might need to further slow or temporarily halt its 737 Max production because of the grounding. The company has continued to build the 737 Max, its bestselling jet, although at a slower pace.

The plane has been grounded since mid-March because of two fatal crashes that killed more than 300 people.