Nov 23, 2020 - Economy

Southwest CEO: "Well into next year" before 737 MAX returns

Southwest Airlines will start flying the 737 MAX aircraft "as quickly as is efficient and cost effective," its CEO Gary Kelly told "Axios on HBO." Still, he said, "it'll be well into next year before we have a revenue flight."

Why it matters: The airline says 25% of its passengers have indicated that they are not comfortable flying on the aircraft. But Kelly says "the Max is a great airplane," with "a wonderful customer experience."

  • "The software issue has easily been addressed."
  • "The facts are very compelling. Aviation is the safest way to travel, and has been for decades. It is heavily, heavily regulated, it, and with very skilled people involved."

Between the lines: Kelly said that passengers can trust Southwest's experienced pilots, who "are among the best in the world and operate very, very safely" and who "are very, very confident in the airplane."

  • "There's no question that there were pilot errors in both in both crashes," he said.
  • "You train pilots to make sure that they know what to expect when they do certain things. That's what needed to be changed. And that's been addressed."
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