Southwest Airlines parks its Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in Victorville storage facility

Leticia Juarez Image
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
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Southwest Airlines began sending its Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes to California Logistics Airport in Victorville, as it waits out a global grounding of the aircraft.

VICTORVILLE, Calif. (KABC) -- Southwest Airlines' newest state-of-the-art Boeing 737 MAX 8 will be idle for the foreseeable future. Over the weekend, the airline began sending its planes to Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, as it waits out a global grounding of the aircraft.

The move comes after the Federal Aviation Administration grounds all Boeing 737 MAX 8s, while the company tries a software fix that may be behind two fatal crashes in the span of five months.

"It is certainly not a place where you would store airplanes for a week. Southwest probably thinks this is going to drag on a little bit, enough time to take the effort to fly the airplanes to Victorville," said Brian Sumers, Senior Aviation Business Editor for Skift.

Despite the grounding, Southwest was allowed a one-way flight to the Mojave desert facility.

"The aircraft were flown under normal, maintenance ferry flight procedures (no passengers onboard) with the FAA's approval to reposition the aircraft," said Southwest Airlines in a statement to Eyewitness News.

Southwest Airlines operates the largest fleet of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft with 34 planes, representing more than $4 billion in planes sitting on a tarmac. The airline says having all its planes in one place will help with the repetitive maintenance necessary for stationary aircraft.

"It is the dry desert air, its pretty good for the airplanes' parts. The parts won't corrode," Sumers said.

The airline will rely on its fleet of over 750 other Boeing 737s to accommodate customers on other scheduled flights. Even so, Sumers said the grounding will have an impact on the airline's bottom line.

"Most of the US airlines are saying they will probably take a financial hit from this, but it is going to be a long time before they are able to calculate it," Sumers said.

It will also have an effect on the travel plans as the busy summer season gets underway in the next few months.

"As we get into summer, it is peak travel season, airlines are scheduling aircraft to fly all the time. There will probably be more delays and more cancellations as we get into, say July," Sumers said.

Southwest is already canceling flights at least five days out.

American Airlines which operates 24 Boeing 737 MAX 8s is canceling 90 flights a day through April 24th.