US airlines face summer travel woes

After two fatal crashes, the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max planes is biting into US airlines’ Northern Hemisphere spring and summer schedules at a time of booming demand.

(REUTERS) - With peak travel season approaching, United States airlines are faced with an unusual problem: not enough planes for this summer's eager vacationers.

Booming demand along with the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft is biting into Northern Hemisphere spring and summer schedules.

Two fatal crashes within five months of each other led to the grounding of more than 300 Boeing airplanes worldwide.

American Airlines removed 24 of the planes from their schedules through Aug 19 — translating to about 115 daily cancellations.

Southwest Airlines, meanwhile, removed 34 of the planes from their schedules this summer — which will result in 160 cancellations of some 4,200 daily flights between June and August.

And that’s after Southwest had estimated US$150 million (S$203 million) in lost revenue between Feb 20 and March 31 alone.

Boeing is under pressure to deliver an upgrade on software that is under scrutiny in both crashes. And then it must convince global regulators that the plane is safe to fly again, a process expected to take at least 90 days.

With fewer seats available for peak travel, analysts say there could be higher last-minute summer fares, especially for business class travellers.