Southwest Airlines Forced to Pull Service From Newark Airport as Boeing 737 Max Remains Grounded

Workers stand beneath Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX aircraft parked at Southern California Logistics Airport on March 27, 2019 in Victorville, California.
Photo: Mario Tama (Getty)

After months of ongoing flight cancellations related to the ongoing grounding of the Boeing 737 Max following two deadly crashes, Southwest Airlines has announced that it is pulling service from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary C. Kelly announced the move during the company’s second quarter earnings this week, citing financial results that were “below expectations” as the result of troubles related to the grounded jets. The airline, which has more than 30 Max jets in its fleet, has also extended its Max flight schedule adjustments through Jan. 5, 2020.

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A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines said in a statement by email that the airline will cease operations at Newark beginning Sunday, Nov. 3. The change will impact 125 Southwest employees currently stationed at Newark, though the airline said that those individuals will be offered other opportunities within the company.

“This was not an easy decision to make, but we must optimize our aircraft and resources to meet customer demand in other markets,” the spokesperson said. “All Southwest Employees at Newark are being offered positions at New York’s LaGuardia Airport or being allowed to bid for other open positons anywhere in the Southwest network. We want to thank Newark, and the surrounding community, for welcoming us for the past eight years, and we look forward to serving our EWR Customers through November with the same Southwest Hospitality they know and love.”

Asked by Gizmodo whether Southwest Airlines plans to cease service at other airports as well, the spokesperson said that the company’s focus is currently “our [Newark] employees and our impacted customers.”

It is not clear when the Boeing 737 Max will be cleared for commercial flight, and the uncertainty has continued to impact the flight schedules of major U.S. carriers with the jets in their fleet, including Southwest, United, and American Airlines. The Federal Aviation Administration said in June that with respect to its ongoing review, it’s “following a thorough process, not a prescribed timeline, for returning the Boeing 737 Max to passenger service.”

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