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The MAX 8 fleet is grounded: what are the other practical aircraft platform options available to AA, SWA or Continental that ensures that ticketed summer 2019 passengers arrive at their destinations safely?

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  • $\begingroup$ The MAX 8 will likely be flying again by the end of July or early August. $\endgroup$ – Juan Jimenez Jun 1 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ Is passenger tickling a new option in MAX-8 entertainment systems? ;-) $\endgroup$ – Dannie Jun 1 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ Let’s hope so, Juan. Boeing promised early April and it just didn’t happen. $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione Jun 1 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ Ticketed: gotta love the spellcheck. :) $\endgroup$ – gatorback Jun 1 at 23:09
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think Continental will have to worry about this. $\endgroup$ – fooot Jun 2 at 0:01
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Airlines really don't have a lot of options to carry through with the flights they planned with the grounded airplanes.

Older models of the 737 aren't much of an option. Most of the MAXes weren't intended to replace retiring aircraft, and even if they were, various costs of bringing the older aircraft into service for just a few months would be too expensive to make sense in the long run. The A320 would be the most direct replacement, but even then the situation is similar. New aircraft are ordered years in advance, so they can't just go buy an A320neo and get it right now.

It's possible to use a larger aircraft like the 757, but they would have to be pulled off another route and would burn more fuel.

The summer is peak travel season, so there just isn't any spare capacity out there that's economical to bring on board on short notice for just a few months. Even if they did, once the hundreds of MAXes return to service, the excess capacity is a liability.

Aircraft are a very expensive asset. Fleet needs are planned well in advance to have only as many as they absolutely need. Even an unexpected increase in maintenance time causes cancellations. The downside to this is that they're in trouble if a large disruption hits. The cheapest option is to just cancel a lot of the flights.

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    $\begingroup$ There would have been a scramble to lease airplanes, any airplanes, that can complete some of the trips, but the pool of available airplanes would have dried up pretty quickly. Boeing would have been footing the bill for leasing, as well as canx costs, depending on how solid the AD clause in the purchase contract was, so things like extra fuel burn would be more of a problem for Boeing. $\endgroup$ – John K Jun 2 at 14:10

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