SUBSCRIBE NOW

United won't fly the Boeing 737 Max until summer, even if the plane is cleared to fly sooner

United Airlines on Friday removed the troubled Boeing 737 Max from its schedule  through early June, longer than any U.S. carrier.

The airline, based in Chicago, had been planning to bring the plane back in early March, subject to regulatory approval, but said the uncertainty about the ungrounding led it to push it back a few months, to June 4.

"With the MAX return to service date still unknown, pushing our timeline back to early June is what is best for our customers and our operation,'' United spokesman Frank Benenati said in a statement. "With this new date now further in the future, we will better help our customers by reducing the number of our passengers we need to reassign to a new aircraft or rebook on a different flight. This also helps our network team better plan for the year.''

Airlines have had to repeatedly scramble the past nine months as the grounding dragged on. The number of proactive fight cancellations is now in the tens of thousands.

United has 14 Boeing 737 Max 9s in its fleet and more on order.

United's latest schedule change, which will remove 80 daily flights from its schedule in April and 108 in May and early June, is notable because it went further than Southwest and American. The three were the only U.S. airlines operating the Max when it was grounded by the FAA March 13

In the past week, American and Southwest each pushed the plane's expected return back just a month, as they and United have done multiple times this year. Southwest has removed it through Easter, American until April 7.  All are seeking compensation from Boeing for the lost revenue and other financial damages. Southwest announced a partial settlement last week.

The airlines' moves come as the plane's return date remains murky. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson chastised Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg last week for repeatedly publicly suggesting the plane would be recertified this year and back in the air in early January.

Earlier this week, the prolonged grounding hit Boeing's factory outside Seattle. The company, which produced 400 Maxes this year that remain undelivered, said it plans to temporarily halt production of the plane in January and did not specify when it would resume.