United Airlines says Boeing blowout cost $200m

United Airlines says Boeing blowout cost $200m

United Airlines has blamed Boeing for a $200m (£161m) hit to its earnings in the first three months of the year.

The airline was forced to ground its Boeing 737 MAX 9 fleet for three weeks after a mid-air cabin explosion on an Alaska Airlines flight in January.

United said it posted a pretax loss of $164 million for the first quarter.

The airline said it “will report quarterly profits” instead.

However, the loss was smaller than Wall Street had expected and United shares rose more than 5% after the announcement.

United has 79 Boeing 737 MAX 9s in its fleet, more than any of its competitors, and second only to Alaska Airlines.

United and Alaska were forced to cancel thousands of flights during inspections in January before US aviation regulators cleared the planes to resume flights.

Safety regulators are now reviewing United’s own operations, after other safety emergencies at the firm in recent weeks.

United said that the ongoing review would delay the firm from putting the new aircraft into service until at least September.

United told investors that its operations were also affected by the delay in Boeing aircraft deliveries.

“We have adjusted our fleet plans to better reflect the reality of what manufacturers are able to deliver,” United chief executive Scott Kirby said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Boeing paid Alaska $160m to make up for the airline’s losses.

And speaking at a conference in March, the firm’s chief financial officer Brian West said that its customers such as United Airlines had “supported everything we’ve tried to do to improve safety and quality for the industry”.

Referring specifically to payments resulting from the events of January 5, he added: “We continue to stand behind our customers with that responsibility.”

Boeing recently faced new pressure after whistleblowers reported safety concerns about the manufacture of some of its planes to US regulators.

Engineer Sam Salehpour accused Boeing of taking shortcuts in the construction of its 787 and 777 jets.

He said he was “threatened with termination” after raising concerns with bosses.

But Boeing said the claims were “inaccurate” and added it was confident its planes were safe.

Mr Salehpour will be a key witness at the US Senate hearing on April 17.

On January 5, a door plug on an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 broke shortly after takeoff, terrifying passengers, and forcing an emergency return to the Portland, Oregon airport.

The latest incident raises new questions about the safety of Boeing planes.

The company has faced intense scrutiny after two fatal crashes of 737 Max 8 passenger jets in 2018 and 2019, which killed 346 people.

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