Grounded Boeing Max planes prompt LaGuardia flight cancellations

At least three American Airlines flights from LaGuardia to Miami that were scheduled to leave at 4:45 p.m., 5:29 p.m., and 7:29 p.m. on 737 Max 8 planes were canceled Wednesday, according to flightstats.com. Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo/Niall Ferguson / Alamy Stock Photo

Three U.S. airlines currently operate the Boeing 737 Max.

At least three American Airlines flights from LaGuardia to Miami that were scheduled to leave at 4:45 p.m., 5:29 p.m., and 7:29 p.m. on 737 Max 8 planes were canceled Wednesday, according to flightstats.com.
At least three American Airlines flights from LaGuardia to Miami that were scheduled to leave at 4:45 p.m., 5:29 p.m., and 7:29 p.m. on 737 Max 8 planes were canceled Wednesday, according to flightstats.com. Photo Credit: Li Yakira Cohen

Several flights out of New York airports were canceled Wednesday night after all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 planes across the country were grounded.

American Airlines canceled six flights into and out of LaGuardia Airport while Southwest Airlines canceled two out of Newark Liberty International Airport that were scheduled to fly on 737 Max planes, according to the Port Authority. 

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a grounding order for all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 planes operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S. territory after several countries, including the U.K. and Canada, did the same. In a briefing with reporters, President Donald Trump said the decision was made following "new information and physical evidence that we’ve received from the site … and a couple of other complaints."

"We’re going to be issuing an emergency order of prohibition to ground all flights of the 737 Max 8 and the 737 Max 9 and planes associated with that line," Trump told reporters on Wednesday afternoon. "Airlines are agreeing with this. The safety of the American people and all people is our paramount concern." 

The announcement comes after an Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed Sunday shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board. In October, the same model operated by Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea off Indonesia, killing 189. 

Some 73 flights departed or were scheduled to depart the metropolitan area from March 11 through March 17 on a 737 Max plane, according to flight-tracker OAG. Of those, 56 were on American Airlines out of LaGuardia, 11 were on Norwegian Air out of New York Stewart International Airport, five were on Icelandair out of Newark, and one was on Southwest out of LaGuardia, according to Mark Clarkson, a spokesman for OAG.

According to the Port Authority, Norwegian Air will substitute a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner for flights in and out of Stewart starting Wednesday night.

Three U.S. airlines currently operate the Boeing 737 Max: American Airlines, which has 24; Southwest, which has 34; and United Airlines, which has 14. 

In a statement, American Airlines said they operate 85 flights on this model aircraft per day and they will "make every effort to rebook customers as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”

Southwest said their 737 Max 8 planes account for less than 5 percent of their daily flights, and that any affected customers can rebook on another flight within 14 days of their date of travel without any extra fees.

“During our 48-year history, Southwest has continuously demonstrated our commitment to Safety,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chairman of the board and chief executive officer, in a statement. “We sincerely appreciate the trust our Customers and Employees place in our airline every day, and the Southwest Team is working diligently to minimize disruptions to our Customers’ travel plans.”

United Airlines said in a statement that they have been preparing contingency plans since Sunday in the event that the Max planes were grounded.

"Our Max aircraft account for roughly 40 flights a day and through a combination of spare aircraft and rebooking customers, we do not anticipate a significant operational impact as a result of this order. We will continue to work with our customers to help minimize any disruption to their travel," the airline said in a statement.

Alison Fox