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Published on Tuesday, November 24, 2020

TUI will allow customers to switch flights to avoid Boeing Max


TUI is to give customers the option to switch to another flight if they don't want to travel on the Boeing 737 Max aircraft when it returns to service.

The Max has been grounded since March 2019 following two fatal crashes, one in Indonesia and the second in Ethiopia.

But the Federal Aviation Authority has cleared the aircraft for take-off in the US again after approving changes to faulty software that caused the two accidents.

TUI and Ryanair both intend to operate the Max aircraft once it is also approved by the European authorities but TUI said it would tell passengers if they are due to travel on the plane. If they want to move, they will be allowed to do so without incurring an amendment fee.

However, TUI customers will be warned that it isn't always possible to give advance notice of which aircraft they will be flying on as last-minute changes sometimes occur for operational reasons.

Ryanair told Which? Travel it won't inform customers which aircraft will be operating their flights and it won't allow free changes for those who want to avoid the Max.

It said: "It will be impossible for Ryanair to make clear to customers (who book on average 10 weeks in advance of travel) which flights any individual aircraft will operate given that - like all airlines - aircraft allocation decisions are only made the day before a flight departure."

TUI only has five Max aircraft, which were mostly based in Manchester from where they were operating on longer flights to Europe and North Africa prior to the pandemic. Ryanair has up to 210 on order.

The aircraft was certified to fly again in the US by the FAA last week, but it will take several weeks to get them back in the air as they need to be pulled out of storage, retrofitted with new software and pilots need to be re-trained.

The planes won't be able to fly again to or from the UK until they are approved by the European air safety agency, EASA. TUI said this wouldn't happen before January. "We'll await the outcome and decide at a later stage when the MAX will be used again," said a TUI spokesperson.

American Airlines is likely to be the first airline to relaunch the Max jet, possibly by late December.

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