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The 41 million seat fallout of the Boeing 737 Max grounding

New stats released this month by OAG shows the huge impact that fears over the safety of the Boeing 737 Max has had on flights globally.

Using their analytics tools, OAG tracked back to mid-February and compared the original planned capacity for selected operators to the current planned B737 Max operation; in essence a “before and after” assessment of the grounding.

It showed that 41 million seats have been lost as a result of the grounding (62m before and 21m after).

China Southern are the largest carrier impacted with a loss of 3.8 million seats whilst American Airlines have lost close to 2 million seats. Indeed, across five major North American airlines some 11 million seats have been dropped from sales compared to the schedules filed in mid-February. China Southern operates the Sky Pearl Club frequent flyer programme.

Many carriers have of course made operational adjustments, continued to operate aircraft with perhaps lower levels of capacity and incurred significant additional cost as part of that recovery programme.

Exactly how much this will have cost the airlines is hard to estimate as some will be able to manage much better than others. However, using a notional US$100 for the combined impact of additional costs OAG says for the airlines affected the impact of the lost capacity could be running towards US$4 Billion and that assumes a November reintroduction which looks increasingly unlikely. When the expected profit for the airline industry in 2019 is some US$ 28 billion losing that revenue will be a major impact.