Southwest Airlines profits tumble after Boeing 737 Max grounding drove up costs

Ground operations employees load baggage onto a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft on the tarmac at John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Santa Ana, California.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines‘ fourth-quarter earnings beat analysts’ estimates, despite taking a revenue hit from the ongoing grounding of the Boeing 737 Max.

The Dallas-based carrier has the most Boeing 737 Max planes in its fleet and on order than any other U.S. airline. The planes have been grounded since March after two fatal crashes in a span of five months killed 346 people.

Boeing this week said it doesn’t expect regulators to allow the planes to fly again until mid-year, meaning carriers won’t have the Max in time for the peak summer travel season.

Southwest has pulled the planes from its schedules until early June but said Thursday that it expects to make another adjustment based on Boeing’s guidance.

The grounding reduced Southwest’s operating income by $313 million in the fourth quarter and $828 million for all of 2019.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates.

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