Aviation experts expect Boeing 737 Max jets to be grounded into 2020

Many aviation experts say the grounded Boeing 737 Max jets won't return to service until sometime in 2020.       

Fort Worth-based American Airlines extended its plan to fly without the jets into November. But Wall Street Journal FAA sources say those jets will stay grounded when the busy Thanksgiving and Christmas travel seasons come.

Right now, airlines are grounding the planes through the start of November and getting awfully close to Thanksgiving and Christmas. One aviation expert expects cancellations to continue into next year.

The Boeing 737 Max is not being flown during busy summer travel. Now, several aviation experts are saying the grounding could continue through the holidays.

United Airlines said Friday that it's canceling flights on the 737 Max until November 2nd. On Sunday, American Airlines did the same and canceled about 115 flights per day but saying in a statement that the airline "remains confident that impending software updates...along with the new training elements Boeing is developing...will lead to recertification of the [Boeing 737 Max] this year."

Boeing has proposed and began testing flight control software fixes but suffered a setback last month when test pilots in a flight simulator discovered a problem similar to the one suspected in two fatal crashes.

The FAA has said it has no timetable in rectifying the Max jets. The biggest operator of the aircraft, Southwest Airlines, is not yet extending its delay, grounding the planes through October 1st, the date announced last month.

Attorney and corporate pilot Ron McCallum says he expects the planes will be grounded beyond 2020. He says keeping the plane on the ground is an excellent safety measure.

"It's killed over 300 people, and it should remain grounded until it's perfectly safe to return to service," he said.

However, it will mean an increased risk of double-booked flights.

"As a traveling consumer, you need to make sure that you look far ahead for your flights," he said. "The holiday travel season in 2019 is going to be very busy. Our own Dallas-based Southwest has 34 of these aircraft. That accounts for five percent of their fleet overall. When you have five percent of your fleet, that may sound like a small number. But when those aircraft are not operating and not creating revenue for Southwest Airlines, it is going to add up."

It also might result in increased ticket prices. American Airlines economic forecasts estimate that the 737 Max cancellations through August would cost the airline $350 million.

"And so that leaves of course all kinds of headache for the traveling public," McCallum said.

A spokesperson for Southwest said the airline will likely announce another delay for the 737 Max and ground them past October 1st.