United Airlines pulls grounded Boeing 737 Max from schedules through June

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Airplane fuselages bound for Boeing's 737 Max production facility sit in storage at their top supplier, Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc, in Wichita, Kansas, U.S. December 17, 2019.

"Pushing our timeline back to early June is what is best for our customers and our operation", said Frank Benenati, a spokesman for Chicago-based United.

Executives said during the company's third-quarter earnings call that United planned to substitute larger planes, including the MAX, on many domestic routes in 2020 to help drive down operating costs and improve efficiency.

United now does not expect its MAX aircraft to fly again before June 4, three months later than the prior estimated date, resulting in the cancelation of more than 8,000 additional flights.

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CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric Co. and France's Safran SA, has struck a deal to increase production of engines for Airbus SE's rival to the 737 MAX, helping CFM deal with Boeing Co.'s production halt of its embattled plane, according to people familiar with the matter. The carrier had expected to receive additional planes this year and next, which leads to an increasing schedule impact. The production halt, set to begin in January, was announced by Boeing on Monday. Some economists have predicted the production halt could slice 0.5% off the nation's GDP next year, depending on how long it lasts.

Boeing said it deeply regrets "the disruption that the 737 MAX grounding is causing our customers and their passengers".

Boeing has been producing 42 737 MAX planes per month, down from 52 at the beginning of the year, and has nearly 400 units sitting on tarmacs for delivery to customers once the flight ban is lifted.

Moody's cut Boeing one level to A3, four levels above speculative grade, noting the uncertainty around when the company's best-selling aircraft will return to service, analyst Jonathan Root said in a report Wednesday. Reuters reported earlier US officials do not expect the FAA to allow flights until at least February and it could slip to March.

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