A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 takes off from a cloudy San Jose International Airport in December 2018.

© Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren for USA TODAY

Southwest is only airline affected by Boeing 737 grounding at Lambert Airport

Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge says there are backup planes available, but to call your airline to double check

March 13, 2019 - 2:58 pm
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - St. Louis Lambert International Airport's director says President Trump's decision to ground all 737 Max 8 and 9 planes won't have much impact on travelers here. 

Related: President Trump joins grounding of all Boeing 737 Max 8, 9's in `emergency order'

Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge says there are about five of the planes used by Southwest Airlines that come and go at Lambert each day. One was in the air on its way to St. Louis from Los Angeles at the time the grounding was announced. It's going to be grounded when it lands later this afternoon at Lambert.

The airport released a statement, Wednesday:

The Federal Aviation Administration is issuing an order to immediately ground all Boeing 737 Max 8 and 737 Max 9 aircraft in the U.S.  The grounding is related to the recent crash of the aircraft in Ethiopia. 

Southwest Airlines is the only carrier that operates the 737 Max aircraft at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL). In recent weeks, Southwest has operated about five departures and five arrivals on its M-F daily schedule. Destinations and departing cities vary.  Southwest operates 118 average daily departures out of STL.

The emergency grounding of the 737 Max aircraft is expected to result in cancellations of some flights this week. The longer impact of flights from or to St. Louis is unknown. Travelers stay connected with Southwest Airlines for the latest information on their upcoming flights.

Hamm-Niebruegge says Southwest has the option of using other planes to fill the gap. Southwest ticket holders are advised to call the airline first, or check out their website, to find out their flight status before they drive out to Lambert. 

KMOX reached out to Southwest Airlines for data on how many Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes fly into and out of St. Louis on a typical day. We recieved this statement in reply:

Southwest Airlines is immediately complying with today’s FAA requirement for all U.S. airlines to ground the Boeing 737 MAX 8. As a result, we have removed our 34 MAX 8 aircraft from scheduled service. Southwest operates a fleet of more than 750 Boeing 737s, and the 34 MAX 8 aircraft account for less than five percent of our daily flights.

We have been in constant contact with the FAA and Boeing since Ethiopian Airlines’ accident last Sunday. While we remain confident in the MAX 8 after completing more than 88,000 flight hours accrued over 41,000 flights, we support the actions of the FAA and other regulatory agencies and governments across the globe that have asked for further review of the data – including information from the flight data recorder – related to the recent accident involving the MAX 8. The Safety of our Customers and Employees is our uncompromising priority, and today’s action reflects the commitment to supporting the current investigations and regulatory concerns.

Our goal is to operate our schedule with every available aircraft in our fleet to meet our Customers’ expectations during the busy spring travel season. Additionally, to support our Customers, Southwest is offering flexible rebooking policies. Any Customer booked on a cancelled MAX 8 flight can rebook on alternate flights without any additional fees or fare differences within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city pairs. A Travel Advisory with additional information for Customers will be posted on Southwest.com.

“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. “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.”

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