Passengers wait as Boeing 737 MAX jets remain grounded

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Nearly six months have passed since the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft

People keeping a close eye on aviation remain hopeful, including the US Secretary of State.

"There were a number of countries that had significant orders of 737 MAXs all around the world and they haven't been able to take delivery on those airplanes.  I'm confident the Boeing company will get this right.  I hope they'll just do it as quickly as they can.  We need to get those airplanes back into the air not only so people can fly and have the transportation they need, but you know this:  A lot of jobs all around Kansas depend on that 737 line continuing to crank on.  I hope they get it right.  I hope they get it right quickly.  It'll be a good thing for Kansans, for America, and, indeed, for these countries around the world who are trying to grow their economy by buying great American-built aircraft.," said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during an interview with KAKE News on Friday.

In July, Southwest Airlines removed the MAX from their schedules through November. 

With the timing of the MAXs return-to-service still uncertain, we are again revising our plans to remove the MAX from our schedule through Nov. 2.

The Spirit AeroSystems plant in Wichita continues to produce at a rate of 52 aircraft per month on the 737 program. The company reduced overtime and contractors, not backfilling many positions. They also had 10-weeks of short work weeks for many employees over the summer, which ended on Aug. 29.

"These were all efforts undertaken to help mitigate any impact of the situation to employees, suppliers and the company," said Keturah Austin, senior manager for corporate communications at Spirit.

Airline experts are hopeful the MAX will fly during the holidays.

"Holiday travel ought to be booked now if you want a good seat. Right now, we don't have the MAX 8 in play. That's going to limit the availability and probably drive the price up. If the MAX 8 comes online when they're predicting in the first part of November, that's in time for the travel season. That might all of a sudden make seats available and maybe lower the price. It could go either way for the consumer, but you have to take the risk, kind of, either buy now or wait," said Dr. Dean Headley, co-author of the Airline Quality Report.

MAX jets are not used at Eisenhower National Airport, but connecting flights may be affected.

"The grounding has impacted the airlines' ability to expand. That's what we're waiting for. We're just on hold right now because we are aggressively trying to add more nonstop destinations, as most airports are. Without having available aircraft, airlines just can't do that," said Valerie Wise, air service and marketing manager for the Wichita Airport Authority.

For updates on the 737 MAX updates, click here.


Air Capital Flight Line stores Spirit's fuselages

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