Southwest Airlines has announced that it’s moving its operations out of New York’s Newark Airport amid falling revenue resulting from the grounding of the 737 Max. The New York Times reports that the airline will consolidate its flights into nearby La Guardia Airport. Southwest has also cancelled all 737 Max flights until January 5th 2020.
Southwest is currently the fifth largest airline to operate out of Newark; 20 of its flights depart from the airport daily, and the airline flew a total of 1.5 million passengers from the airport in the year ending April 2019. Combined with its decision to cancel all 737 Max flights through the rest of 2019, Southwest’s actions are the most drastic response yet to the ongoing problems with Boeing’s 737 Max, which came to light after a fault with the plane’s design resulted in two crashes killing hundreds of people.
Following an investigation into the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System believed to have been linked to the two accidents that killed 346 people, the United States Federal Aviation Authority found another safety risk with the plane in June. News of the additional fault caused multiple airlines to extend their cancellation of flights that would have used the 737 Max. ABC News reports that Boeing has not ruled out temporarily shutting down production of the plane if it does not return to service by the end of the year.
Southwest Airlines says that any customers who were previously due to fly out of Newark will be offered flights out of alternative airports, and that it will offer its roughly 125 employees at the airport jobs elsewhere, The New York Times reports. The airline also said it was in preliminary discussions with Boeing about being compensated for the grounding of the plane. Southwest had previously expected to take delivery of 44 of the planes from Boeing throughout the course of this year.