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U.S. airlines will detail for investors this month how the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 Max — now about to enter its fifth month — is impacting their financial results during the busiest time of the year for the industry.
Airlines are enjoying searing air travel demand. Fares are on the rise, according to some analyst estimates. Fuel prices are down compared with last year. All of that is good news for carriers and their shareholders, but investors will also want to know how they're meeting that demand during the busiest travel season of the year with dozens of planes out of service due to safety concerns.
The Federal Aviation Administration and regulators around the world grounded the popular Boeing 737 Max jets in mid-March following two fatal crashes — one in Indonesia in October and another in Ethiopia in March — which claimed a total of 346 lives. Boeing has developed a software fix for an anti-stall system on the planes that investigators implicated in both crashes, but regulators haven't signed off on the changes, forcing carriers to cancel thousands of flights during the busiest travel period of the year.
Still, the planes, which entered into service in May 2017, are still a small part of U.S. airlines' fleets, so the immediate impact may be minor. But regulators have not indicated when they would allow the 737 Max jets to fly again.
Here are some things to watch as U.S. airlines report earnings, starting with Delta on Thursday: