The first 737 Max 9 aircraft to return to service on the carrier will fly from Seattle to San Diego on Friday afternoon
Boeing 737-Max 9 aircrafts are returning to service in Alaska Airlines' fleet after the planes were grounded following a mid-air blowout earlier this month.
On Friday, the airline announced that final inspections on the first group of Max 9 aircrafts has been completed, and the FAA has cleared the planes to return to service. The first Max 9 to return to the air will be Flight 1146, which will fly from Seattle to San Diego on Friday afternoon. The flight is set to depart at 2:20 p.m. PST, per CBS News.
Two more Max 9 flights will take off later in the afternoon: Flight 621 from Las Vegas to Portland, Oregon, and Flight 1086 from Seattle to Ontario, California, according to CBS News.
Per Alaska Airlines' official website, guests who are not comfortable flying on a Max 9 plane can request to be moved to another flight. CBS News reported that United Airlines, the only other airline that operates the aircrafts, has a similar policy in place for when Max 9 flights resume on Saturday.
Inspections on the rest of the Alaska Airlines' fleet are still underway. "Each of our 737-9 MAX will return to service only after the rigorous inspections are completed and each plane is deemed airworthy according to FAA requirements," the airline stated.
The airline also noted each inspection takes around "12 hours," and it believes the entire fleet will be ready to return to service by the end of next week.
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On Jan. 5, Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 from Portland, Oregon to Ontario, California made an emergency landing after a plug door near the rear of the aircraft blew out at 16,000 feet, leaving a hole in the side of the plane. All 177 passengers survived, but they were understandably left shaken by the event.
“I am personally committed to doing everything we can to conduct this review in a timely and transparent way,” company CEO Ben Minicucci said in a statement after the emergency landing.
"My heart goes out to those who were on this flight – I am so sorry for what you experienced. I am so grateful for the response of our pilots and flight attendants. We have teams on the ground in Portland assisting passengers and are working to support guests who are traveling in the days ahead,” he added.
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