Mérida travelers taking American Airlines to New York, connecting in Miami, could be flying the infamous Boeing 737 Max on the second leg of their trips.
The plane is set to carry passengers in the US for the first time in nearly two years Tuesday when AA will use the jet on a round-trip route from Miami to LaGuardia Airport.
It lifts off from Miami daily at 10:32 a.m., too early for a quick layover from MID. But it is an option for travelers who opt to spend a day or two in Florida before continuing to New York. The same plane returns to MIA at 2:30 p.m.
In the future, more 737 Max flights will be on the runway in Miami, American said.
“We expect to gradually phase more 737 Max aircraft into revenue service through January with up to 36 departures from our Miami hub depending on the day of the week,” American’s Chief Operating Officer David Seymour said in a statement.
The US Federal Aviation Administration and aviation authorities across the globe grounded the plane in March 2019 after a 737 Max Lion Air flight out of Indonesia crashed in late 2018, killing 189 people. Four months later, an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed, killing 157, including a Mérida woman.
Investigators blamed a computer system for the crashes. Boeing and the FAA say the plane is safe now and pilots have been retrained using flight simulators.
Passengers who are booking flights on American’s website will be shown the type of airplane assigned to each trip.
Most other countries have yet to approve the retooled 737 Max. Aeromexico resumed flights with the plane last week between Mexico City and Cancun and Brazilian airline GOL became the first to OK flights earlier this month.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll published Monday found that 57% of Americans, when informed about the plane’s history, said they were not likely to knowingly fly in a Boeing 737 Max. About 37% said would wait at least six months before booking a flight.
But the poll also revealed short memories. Some people are either not aware of the 737 Max’s history or have forgotten about the whole thing: 39% said they were familiar with the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes, down from about 50% in a previous poll. The airline’s site showed the morning flight was full.
Two other US airlines own the troubled jet: United Airlines — which flies between Houston and Miami — and Southwest. United plans to reintroduce the Max sometime in the next three months, while Southwest anticipates doing so in the spring.
Airlines prize the 737 Max for being more fuel-efficient than earlier 737s. Boeing still faces an ongoing criminal investigation into the original, deadly Max design.