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American Airlines CEO sees Boeing 737 MAX flying by mid-August

FILE PHOTO: American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX jets sit parked at a facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S., May 10, 2019. American Airlines/Handout via REUTERS/File PhotoCHICAGO (Reuters) – The grounded Boeing Co 737 MAX is “highly likely” to be flying by mid-August, American Airlines Group Inc Chief Executive Doug Parker told shareholders on Wednesday. A battered aviation industry is awaiting regulatory approval for a software fix and pilot training updates by Boeing that would pave the way for the troubled jet to fly again following two deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia within five months. American Airlines has said the economic impact of the grounded MAX would be about $350 million between its worldwide grounding in mid-March and Aug. 19, when the airline initially envisioned flying the jets again. On Sunday, American extended cancellations of about 115 daily flights until Sept. 3, but Parker said that decision merely reflected monthly scheduling plans for pilots and flight attendants. “No one should take that as some indication that we don’t think the aircraft will be ready by Aug 19,” Parker said during the company’s annual shareholders meeting. “We wouldn’t be selling seats today if we didn’t think it was a highly likely possibility (…) that we’d be able to provide that service by Sept. 3,” he added. Boeing has yet to formally submit its software fix to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which said on Wednesday it does not have a specific timetable on when the 737 MAX jet would return to service. Still, Parker said he understood there is “an absolute fix” for the 737 MAX that will make it safe, while acknowledging it may take time to regain public confidence in the aircraft. American has 24 MAX jets and dozens more on order. Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Bernadette BaumOur Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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