The Airlines & Countries Grounding The 737 MAX (Updated List)

Filed Under: Misc.

Early Sunday morning an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX crashed shortly after takeoff, making it the second 737 MAX to crash during the initial phase of flight in the past several months (a Lion Air 737 MAX crashed after takeoff last October).

What do two crashes mean for the 737 MAX?

As I addressed in a follow-up post, at this point a lot of people are concerned about the 737 MAX, as there are a lot more questions than answers. We don’t know for sure if there’s anything actually wrong with the plane, or if there’s anything wrong with the way pilots are trained to fly the plane. And if either of those are the case, we don’t know what exactly the problem is.

We do know that modern aviation is incredibly safe, so to have two of the same (brand new) planes crash just months apart is highly unusual.

The last thing anyone wants to see is a tragedy like this happen again. As a result, we’re seeing an increasing number of airlines and aviation authorities temporarily ground the plane until we find out more.

So let’s take a look at where things stand, and then I plan to update this post as there’s more to report.

Which airlines fly the 737 MAX?

Currently, there are 387 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in operation, 74 of which are operated by US airlines. These planes are operated by a total of 59 airlines.

Here are the airlines that fly the 737 MAX, along with how many of the planes they had delivered to them:

  • Aerolineas Argentinas (9)
  • Aeromexico (5)
  • Air Canada (20)
  • Air China (14)
  • Air Italy (5)
  • American (20)
  • Cayman (2)
  • China Eastern (13)
  • China Southern (16)
  • Comair (1)
  • Copa (5)
  • Corendon (1)
  • Eastar Jet (2)
  • Enter Air (2)
  • Ethiopian Airlines (5)
  • Fiji Airways (2)
  • FlyDubai (14)
  • Fuzhou (2)
  • Garuda Indonesia (1)
  • Gol (6)
  • Hainan (7)
  • Icelandair (3)
  • Jet Airways (6)
  • Kunming (2)
  • Lion Air (14)
  • LOT Polish (5)
  • Lucky Air (3)
  • Mauritania Airlines (1)
  • MIAT Mongolian (1)
  • Norwegian (18)
  • Okay Airways (1)
  • Oman Air (5)
  • Royal Air Maroc (2)
  • Shandong (6)
  • Shanghai Airlines (11)
  • Shenzhen (5)
  • SilkAir (5)
  • Southwest (31)
  • SpiceJet (7)
  • Sunwing (3)
  • S7 (2)
  • Thai Lion (3)
  • TUI (11)
  • Turkish (7)
  • United (12)
  • WestJet (12)
  • Xiamen (9)

Note that in some cases the numbers may be a bit off, or inconsistent. This is because I consolidated the numbers from airlines with multiple business units (like Norwegian), and also in some cases, there’s a discrepancy between how many planes an airline has taken delivery of, and how many they’re actually flying.

Which airlines & countries have grounded the 737 MAX?

With the above in mind, we’re seeing quite a few 737 MAX aircraft grounded, though it’s happening in different ways. In some cases we’re seeing airlines voluntarily ground the planes, to err on the side of caution. In other cases, we’re seeing aviation authorities ground the plane.

When aviation authorities ground the plane, it either applies to all flights to that country, or in some cases just applies to airlines from the home country.

So, with that in mind, where is the 737 MAX grounded?

Which countries have grounded the 737 MAX?

  • Australia (no airlines are allowed to operate the plane to & from Australia, impacting Fiji Airways and SilkAir)
  • China (no domestic airlines are allowed to operate the plane, impacting Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Fuzhou, Hainan, Kunming, Lucky Air, Shandong, Shanghai Airlines, Shenzhen, and Xiamen Air)
  • Indonesia (no domestic airlines are allowed to operate the plane, impacting Garuda Indonesia and Lion Air)
  • Malaysia (no airlines are allowed to operate the plane to & from Malaysia)
  • Mongolia (no domestic airlines are allowed to operate the plane, impacting MIAT Mongolian)
  • Oman (no airlines are allowed to operate the plane to & from Oman, impacting Oman Air)
  • Singapore (no airlines are allowed to operate the plane to & from Singapore, impacting SilkAir)
  • South Korea (no domestic airlines are allowed to operate the plane, impacting Eastar Jet)
  • United Kingdom (no airlines are allowed to operate the plane to & from the UK, impacting Norwegian and TUI)

Which airlines have grounded the 737 MAX?

In addition to the above, the following airlines have voluntarily grounded their 737 MAX aircraft:

  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • Aeromexico
  • Cayman Airways
  • Comair
  • Ethiopian
  • Gol
  • Royal Air Maroc

What is the US Federal Aviation Administration saying?

Late last night the US Federal Aviation Administration issued a continued airworthiness notification for the 737 MAX. This essentially says that the FAA is supporting the current investigation. As they explain:

All data will be closely examined during this investigation, and the FAA will take appropriate action if the data indicates the need to do so.

External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018. However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions.

They go on to talk about the ongoing oversight activities by the FAA, and what they learned from the Lion Air crash.

This suggests to me that the FAA doesn’t plan on changing its stance and grounding the plane as a precaution, but rather would only do so if they learn something new.

At this point, I think the only way the 737 MAX will be grounded in the US is if there’s sufficient public pressure (either from the media, from passengers, or from crews). I’ll be curious to see if that happens. Arguably the government shutdown was ended due to issues with air traffic control staffing, so it doesn’t seem that unreasonable.

Bottom line

If my math is right, at this point about half of 737 MAX aircraft are grounded. Air Canada, American, Southwest, and WestJet continue to fly their 737 MAX aircraft, which represents nearly 100 of the planes.

I’m curious to see how this unfolds. Air crash investigations can take months (if not years):

  • Will the airlines that haven’t grounded the plane continue to let the plane fly without knowing more?
  • Will the airlines that have grounded the plane really keep it grounded for months and months? Without more information I hope they do, and putting safety over profit is the right thing to do, but often businesses get swayed to make decisions that are in their short-term financial interests

If there are any airlines or authorities I missed, please let me know, and I’ll try to keep the list updated.

  1. The only way the 737MAX will be grounded in the US anytime soon is if a similar crash happens to AA or Southwest (which I hope won’t happen.)

  2. Politically, the US airlines will not ground them without FAA saying they should. Interesting the other airlines saying they’re fine with them are the ones probably relying very heavily, like FlyDubai with 14.

  3. @Ben

    Is the “In This Post” clickable contents a new format for posts from now?

    If yes, I like it!

  4. @ Joey — It can be. 😉 We just added the functionality, and in WordPress I just have to click a button and it’s added. Right now plan is to add it to any post that has several subheadings (let’s say four or five), but not others. If anyone has strong opinions one way or another, let me know!

  5. @Lucky – I agree that you should only include the “in this post” on longer articles. Though I am liking it 🙂

    By the way, I have read in over 3 articles that Air Canada has 24 737 MAX 8 aircraft. Just wondering, is the number above (20) how many they operate? Or were other websites counting something else? And the wiki page for AC also says 24 though I don’t know how accurate that is.

  6. Two interesting things about Gol. First, the Brazilian Government’s equivalent of the FAA was the ONLY agency in the world that last year did not buy into Boeing’s campaign that pilots did not need specific training for the MAX and required it.

    Second, apparently Gol had tens of thousands of tweets directed to them yesterday saying that “passengers will boycott the MAX” which leads me to believe that the idea Ben poses as a question is a correct one. That is, yes, consumers can force airlines to rethink flying these aircraft and it could then force the NTSB and FAA to also take some quicker action in the initial investigation and lean towards the side of conservative.

    And @WP is probably right, the only airline that this would have noticeable effect would be Norwegian. The rest of the carriers? The MAX accounts for 2% and less of their fleets. It’s beyond me what the FAA is thinking.

  7. Boeing can’t financially afford to ground them. FAA is risking the lives of many because of bad investment decisions of an over-leveraged company.

  8. Agree with others that (sadly) it takes another plane down before FAA is going proactive.

    If this was an Airbus I’m sure FAA would have grounded them.

    Now this is time for public to boycott and call out FAA.

    This is probably one of the few times
    leadership of ALPAA APA etc. to show that they represent the safety of their members rather than blackmailing their employers.


  9. There needs to be a dialogue with pilots that are actually flying these planes. Have they experienced unusual problems with the MAX aircraft that are out of the ordinary that could constitute a problem? Are the presumed problems that pilots on the Indonesian and Ethiopian aircraft also happening to other MAX pilots? I hear a whole lot of speculation and opinions, but absolutely no pilots publicly coming forward with any actually analysis.

  10. Just learned this. A friend was flying on Gol next week from Miami to Fortaleza on one of their new Miami flights. He was notified that all Miami flights have been halted indefinitely and no longer bookable. Not only did Gol take the initiative to ground the MAX but, unlike a lot of other carriers that this will have little impact, Gol has really taken a hit. The MAX is the only plane they have that can fly to Miami from Brazil and has essentially shut down their North America operations. As well, if you go to their website the entire bookable schedule is shut down throughout the year.

  11. Doug Parker and other top AA execs should take some MAX flights over the next few days to show their confidence in the aircraft.

  12. Such a strange set of events. I’m surprised the airline industry has not acted as one on this.

  13. Correction on South Korea: Eastar Jet has voluntarily grounded its 2 737-8 Max’s – Korean government is yet to make official decision on whether to ground the type.
    (Unless Korean authorities ground the 737-Max soon) It is going to look interesting when Korean Air starts getting 737-8 Max delivered later this year – given that the current government seems to have quite some grudge both against Korean Air and the USA (as a nation).

  14. @Lucky
    One comment on the UK shutdown – LOT Polish also flies its B737-8 Max on its WAW-LHR routes so they will be immediately impacted as well.

  15. AA cancelled my sunday MIA-MCO flight on a 738 (due to the Oasis issues) and rebooked me on a MAX. I called EP desk and said no thanks. Agent told me I was “not allowed” to make further changes. I love how AA employees make up the rules as they go. I’ll fly on a MAX when Dougie and his Arizona frat boy goons decide to finally fly on one.

  16. Under Trump the EPA says coal is good for the environment , the FCC says net neutrality hurts customers and the FAA says 737 MAX are safe.
    Welcome to the post truth world where regulators are cheerleaders for US companies.

  17. @Denis. It’s interesting that Gol says in that announcement that all Intl. flights will operate as scheduled using 737NG aircraft. This given that, in fact, they have shut down Miami and all bookings to Brasilia and Fortaleza.

  18. @HP: According to Flightradar the last time this flight was operated by a MAX was on the 10th, so on the day it got grounded. Maybe it was already in the air when the grounding was announced?

  19. @Greg: just left a couple of hours ago, but you are right, Flightaware haven’t updated their system. Looked on Flightstats and it says aircraft was swapped with a 737-800 before departure.

  20. The UK groundings also affect LOT Max ops from WAW. @lucky and thoughts on how this could affect Boeing’s future order book/do you think Airbus could capitalize on this situation with its ‘safe’ 320NEO?

  21. “The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is temporarily suspending operation of all variants of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into and out of Singapore in light of two fatal accidents involving Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in less than five months. The suspension will take effect from 1400hrs, 12 March 2019.

    SilkAir, which operates 6 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, will be affected by the temporary suspension. The other airlines currently operating Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to Singapore are China Southern Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Shandong Airlines and Thai Lion Air. CAAS is working with Changi Airport Group and the affected airlines to minimise any impact to travelling passengers.”

  22. It used to be “If it’s not Boeing, I’m not going.”

    Now it’s, “If it’s not Airbus, I’m taking the bus.”

  23. I have a flight from Orlando to Brasilia next week on Gol’s 737 MAX 8 and I haven’t been notified about a change in the flight. I don’t think they have another plane which can fly the route besides the MAX and I’ve heard some people’s flights getting canceled. Still haven’t gotten anything from the airline yet. Will probably just refund my ticket and fly LATAM or Delta to São Paulo.

  24. @LM. Gol has suspended all flights to the U.S. at this point (despite what their notice on the website which says that Intl. operations are normal). Some passengers have been notified. They are rebooking people on Delta via GIG or GRU if you call.

  25. I’m telling you: something is going on. Some information was obtained this morning about the MAX. Probably from the data recorder that was recovered yesterday. This is happening fast.

    I’m betting that the FAA is preparing now its announcement for this afternoon and they are at this point talking to the carriers and working with them on preparing and getting aircraft and crews positioned and on the ground.

  26. @ Stuart

    The FAA is probably under political/commercial pressure not to ground. But now both UK and Germany have grounded (likely the rest of EU will follow), their position is becoming difficult. If, God forbid, another accident happens while they have not grounded the MAX, the FAA’s position will be intolerable. The FAA and the UK’s CAA usually march in lock-step.

  27. Ireland and France just joined the ban. It will surely be Europe wide by the end of the day.
    Meanwhile Boeing puts its fingers in its ears and ignores what’s happening.

  28. It’s actually pretty incredible that we are now seeing a worldwide rebellion against the FAA and Boeing who are now the only ones saying there’s nothing to worry about and airlines and national aviation authorities are saying ‘we don’t believe you’.

  29. AA should voluntarily ground their Max 8’s and while they’re on the ground rip out and replace the God-awful interiors they put in them.

  30. According to The Guardian:

    “A spokesman for the UK civil aviation authority said: “As we do not currently have sufficient information from the flight data recorder [black box] we have, as a precautionary measure, issued instructions to stop any commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace.”

    “There are five 737 Max aircraft registered and operational in the UK, all belonging to TUI. Norwegian has also grounded all its 18 737 Max 8 planes, registered across Europe, including several which it uses to operate transatlantic flights from Edinburgh and Ireland to the US.
    “Turkish Airlines also operates 737 Max 8 planes. Two of its flights bound for Britain appear to have been forced to turn back to Istanbul in midair, according to FlightRadar24.”

  31. I called on my flight which was MIA-LAS on the only 737-MAX flight of the day for that route. What is strange is that the flight has many open seats, yet American is not selling any seats for that flight currently. I called and got my flight changed to one of the 757 flights of the day (both non stops) I am lifetime Plat and never changed my flight before like this. A former FAA safety inspector said today he would not fly that plane until we know more. I assume they would change the flight for anyone however. This is a very unusual issue and couldd really become a major issue for AA and others if they cant fly these planes. I am sure tons of customers are calling right now.

  32. I wont expect anything less from a country like the US who loves guns more then their children lives. The 787 was grounded for lesser problems ( with no fatalities) and the 738 Max killed more then 300 people in 5 months and the FAA acts like a little girl coz of political and airlines pressure. The US business model will always go for profits over safety or human lives! There are many more examples of how little they value life.

  33. “The US business model will always go for profits over safety or human lives”

    Truer words have never been spoken.

  34. Lots of people here gave me crap yesterday for mentioning the pilots. Turns out the captain was 29 years old and FO was barely over 200 hours from what I read today. I’m not saying there’s no issues with the plane, new tech, training that wasn’t provided, etc, but I do sincerely doubt this happens to a 20 year 30,000 pilot over here — would no problem fly a Max on SW/AA and not worry about safety (would be worried about comfort though…)

  35. Recently booked a flight on the Max with AC. Asked them to change it free of charge. Eventually the change was made to a non-Max operated flight. I can’t imagine I was the first customer to call.

    AC’s flights to Iceland and Bordeaux are no longer bookable.

  36. So in the last few hours, The UK, Austria, Poland, France, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Italy have all suspended 737 Max flights, But the USA says it’s safe.

    Boeing themselves have said they’ll be releasing a software update in the coming weeks. Why are they releasing this update? Seems like a good idea to ground all flights worldwide until this update has taken place and fully tested?

  37. The latest round of ban makes me wonder do those government learn something new about the tragedy that made them decide to ground them today.


  38. It’s going to take a long time to wipe the blood off the hands of the FAA, AA, SW when the next crash occurs on US soil.

  39. Again, Boeing should voluntarily ground all 737 Max, and stop making itself look bad. Although that would make FAA look really bad now, which FAA deserves now.

  40. You can also now add the UAE, Kuwait, Turkey and Russia who have followed the UK and EU today. ( most of whom have them in their airlines fleets). So everywhere outside North America!

  41. I just want to point out that this sort of thing isn’t THAT uncommon with new aircraft designs. Roll the clock back about 30 years ago. The DC-10 and 727 both had pretty bad safety records in their first few years. Once the faults were discovered and fixed, both became safe aircraft. If anyone’s interested in this sort of thing, I’d suggest taking a look at the early 727 days.

    As far as trying to blame Trump on this one, from someone who has had to work with the FAA for years, there’s no difference in how the FAA’s handling things today compared to when Obama was in office. The FAA has been called the Tombstone Agency for some time. I’ll say they’ve gotten better over the decades, but too often I’ve found them to be more worried that every checkbox on a piece of paper is checked rather than aircraft are actually safe to fly.

    As I’m about to post this, I see even Trump is going after Boeing for this.

  42. “External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018. However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions.”

    So much for the precautionary principle, hey.

  43. Let’s take emotion and politics out of this. Post Lion Air, Boeing started working on a software fix for MCAS, which is being released next month. Why risk having another accident, however small the chances, in the interim?

    This is not about blond support for Boeing. They make amazing airplanes.

  44. I’ve read that the entire EU has grounded this plane; was from a reliable source (WSJ, I think…)

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