Tuesday, the European Union and India announced they have banned the Boeing 737 Max from flying over their airspace, according to the BBC. The United Kingdom and China had banned the airplane already; the FAA in the U.S. has said the plane is airworthy, although Southwest Airlines, which operates 34 Boeing 737 Max airplanes, the most of any in America, said passengers booked on any flight with that airplane will be permitted to change their reservations.
American Airlines, which operates 24 of the planes, stated its "standard policies for changes still apply.”
The flurry of countries banning the 737 started after the crash of a 737 operated by Ethiopian Airlines that crashed on Sunday; all 157 people aboard the 737 were killed. Last October, a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight was lost over the Java Sea, killing 189 people.
India's Ministry of Civil Aviation said the 737 would be grounded "immediately,” adding, “These planes will be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations." Spicelet Airlines in India has roughly a dozen 13 Boeing 737 Max 8 planes.
The EU Aviation Safety Agency stated the flights would be banned "as a precautionary measure.” It also stated, "The accident investigation is currently ongoing, and it is too early to draw any conclusions as to the cause of the accident."
Fox News reported that the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) issued public statements urging the FAA and the CEO of American Airlines to suspend flights with the 737. Sara Nelson, AFA president, stated:
This is about public confidence in the safety of air travel. The United States has the safest aviation system in the world, but Americans are looking for leadership in this time of uncertainty. The FAA must act decisively to restore the public faith in the system. Again, we caution everyone to not jump to conclusions and not interrupt the integrity of the investigations … The FAA's April deadline for updates is insufficient considering the legitimate fear and uncertainty following two deadly accidents involving this aircraft," Nelson continued. "The FAA must restore public confidence by grounding the 737 MAX until the required changes have been implemented and the public can be fully assured.
AFPA national president Lori Bassani echoed:
Our Flight Attendants are very concerned with the recent Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crash, which has raised safety concerns with the 737 MAX 8. Many respected global carriers are grounding the planes. We are calling on our CEO Doug Parker to strongly consider grounding these planes until a thorough investigation can be performed. While we cannot draw premature conclusions, it is critical to work with manufacturers, regulators and airlines to take steps to address our important safety concerns. The safety of our crews and passengers is paramount. Our Flight Attendants will not be forced to fly if they feel unsafe. Our condolences go out to the family and loved ones of crew and passengers who perished aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Nairobi, Kenya.