▶️ Alaska Airlines may cancel 150 daily flights with MAX-9 shelved, CEO says

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Alaska Airlines faces as many as 150 canceled flights per day until its Boeing 737-9 Max aircraft return to service following this month’s incident when a door plug fell off a Portland flight in mid-air.

CEO Ben Minicucci released a video message to all Alaska frequent flier customers, admitting that not having these planes in service will have a profound impact on flight schedules. 

“We have 65 Boeing 737-9 Max aircraft. Which makes up about 20% of our fleet. Since Alaska Airlines and the FAA have grounded these aircraft, that means we are canceling between 110 and 150 flights every day. We will return these aircraft to service only when all findings have been fully resolved and meet the stringent standards of Boeing, the FAA and Alaska Airlines,” Minicucci said.

RELATED: Boeing to increase inspections on 737-Max following Alaska Airlines blow out

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Alaska said it is committed to notifying passengers if and when their flight is canceled.

United Airlines customers may also be getting a similar message. That carrier has 79 Max-9 planes in service. 

The message came one day after Alaska Airlines was named in a lawsuit by passengers on the flight that lost the door plug on the Jan. 5 flight. The door plug blew out shortly after the plane took off from Portland, leaving a hole in the plane. The cabin lost pressure and the plane was forced to descend rapidly and return to Portland for an emergency landing. No serious injuries were reported.

Following the incident, Federal Aviation Administration announced it plans an investigation into whether the manufacturer failed to make sure a fuselage panel that blew off was safe and manufactured to meet the design that regulators approved.

The National Transportation Safety Board is focusing its investigation on plugs used to fill spots for extra doors when those exits are not required for safety reasons on Boeing 737 Max 9 jetliners.

There are no estimates being given on when the MAX-9 planes will return to service. It could be days or even months. Back in 2019, Boeing 737 MAX planes were grounded worldwide for 20 months following the crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia, linked to poorly designed cockpit software.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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