American Airlines will allow employees to be the first passengers on five flights to nowhere this month as it prepares to return the controversial Boeing 737 MAX back into service.
In a memo to employees first obtained by the View From the Wing blog, the five flights will be available for any employee of American Airlines or its regional carriers.
All Boeing MAX airplanes were taken out of service in March 2019 after two crashes involving the planes killed 346 passengers and crew. The Federal Aviation Administration cleared the way for the planes to return to active status last month.
American is the first airline planning to put the Boeing 737 MAX back into service, with the first commercial flight planned for December 29 between Miami and LaGuardia.
“We are taking a phased approach to return the aircraft to service. We will begin with non-commercial flights in early December before the official return to service date to demonstrate that the 737 MAX is as safe as every plane we fly at American,” Chief Operating Officer David Seymour and five other executives wrote in a memo to employees in November.
“Ahead of our commercial flights, interested team members will also have the opportunity to fly on the 737 MAX,” they wrote in teasing the flights to nowhere.
The employee-only flights are both an opportunity to show the public that the planes are safe to fly and give pilots their first chance to fly them again since changes were made during the grounding.
“We know that restoring our customers’ confidence in this aircraft will come with time and importantly, transparency and flexibility,” Seymour wrote.