As pressure mounts on Boeing, Pittsburgh’s top airline will keep flying 737 Max 8
Pittsburgh International Airport’s leading airline said Tuesday it will continue flying its Boeing 737 Max 8 airplanes as aviation authorities in some countries grounded that model of aircraft following Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash that claimed 157 lives.
At least 24 Southwest Airlines flights using the 737 Max 8 came through Pittsburgh from March 6 through Tuesday, information from the flight-tracking website FlightAware showed. A Southwest flight to Phoenix is scheduled to use the 737 Max 8 on Wednesday, while one flight each to Los Angeles and Phoenix are scheduled for Thursday, according to the website.
“As the investigation of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 progresses, we are staying in close contact with Boeing, the FAA and other airlines to learn the cause of the accident,” Southwest wrote in an email to the Tribune-Review.
Southwest said its fleet of more than 750 Boeing 737s includes 34 Max 8 models.
“We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of the Max 8. We don’t have any changes planned to our Max 8 operations,” the Southwest statement said.
Southwest carried about 27 percent of Pittsburgh’s passengers in January, making it the airport’s most heavily used airline, according to airport statistics. It operated an average of 29 daily flights to 17 destinations.
Airport spokeswoman Alyson Walls did not comment directly on Southwest but said, “Safety is the No. 1 priority for all of us in the airline industry. We have full confidence that the (Federal Aviation Administration) and the carriers are monitoring this issue and making appropriate decisions.”
Aviation authorities in several countries ordered airlines to ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes or barred them from their airspace in the wake of Sunday’s crash. The countries include India, China, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Britain, Germany, France and Italy, according to The Associated Press.
Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .