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United Airlines to move its grounded 737 Max jets to Arizona

Key Points
  • The airline, which has 14 of the planes, stores the jets in Houston and Los Angeles.
  • The Boeing plane has been grounded since mid-March after two fatal crashes.
  • "United is fully committed to the safe movement of all our MAX aircraft and we have clearance from the FAA to conduct these ferry flights," a United spokesperson says.
A United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft lands at San Francisco International Airport.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

United Airlines announced Wednesday that it's moving its grounded fleet of 737 Max jets to Arizona for storage.

The airline, which has 14 of the planes, currently stores the jets in Houston and Los Angeles. United said it is moving the planes because of weather issues in Houston and construction and space issues in Los Angeles.

The Boeing plane has been grounded since mid-March following two fatal crashes. The plane must be recertified by the Federal Aviation Administration before it can rejoin airline fleets.

"United is fully committed to the safe movement of all our MAX aircraft and we have clearance from the FAA to conduct these ferry flights," a United spokesperson said.

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Houston is less than 60 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico and the Southern U.S. is in the midst of peak hurricane season. That's one of the reasons why the airline is moving the jets, the spokesperson said.

The timeline to reintroduce the planes has been pushed back, leading airlines to take the jet off their schedules. United has canceled 737 Max flights until November. The company said the move to Arizona does not change those plans.

Southwest has said it won't fly the plane until 2020 and has delayed hiring new pilots because of the uncertainty around the Max.

The grounding is also causing storage issues for Boeing, which has continued to produce new planes. The company is hiring temporary workers to maintain its undelivered fleet.

The cancellations have also weighed on airline earnings. American Airlines reported a $175 million hit to its pretax income in the second quarter due to the grounding.

United did not disclose the financial impact of the grounding in its last earnings report but did say it was buying used 737s to help meet growing demand.

— CNBC's Leslie Josephs and Phil LeBeau contributed to this report.

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