Boeing’s troubles are spilling over to its airline customers, could impact air travel

By Lori Aratani | The Washington Post

After three years of scrambling to hire and train pilots, United Airlines is encouraging its aviators to take unpaid time off next month, the latest example of how woes at Boeing — including delays in aircraft delivery — are rippling through the aviation industry.

Production limits imposed on Boeing after a piece of the wall blew off an Alaska Airlines plane midflight in January are in part responsible for the delays, which are forcing carriers to halt hiring and rethink schedules even as demand for air travel remains robust.

Southwest Airlines, which operates an all-Boeing fleet, had anticipated receiving 58 737 Max 8 aircraft, but will instead receive 46. Boeing’s continued challenges, Southwest said in a regulatory filing, may require it to reducethe number of seats it offers and rethink its capital spending program, which includes investments in aircraft and technology upgrades.