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United Airlines Won't Fly Boeing 737 MAX Jets Until June

The grounding until June is about two months longer than that of rival carriers.
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Boeing  (BA) - Get The Boeing Company Report is limping into the end of year after United Airlines  (UAL) - Get United Airlines Holdings Inc. Report announced that it was scrubbing the 737 MAX from its flight schedule until at least June, a ban two months longer than rivals have imposed on the beleaguered craft.

The MAX will be off the company’s schedule until June 4. Southwest Airlines  (LUV) - Get Southwest Airlines Company Report and American Airlines  (AAL) - Get American Airlines Group Inc. Report said they will shelve the jet until April.

“By moving the return to service date back more than just a month - as we have done previously throughout 2019 - it allows us to have more certainty by providing our customers and our operation a firmer and more definitive timeline,” United Airlines said in a statement.

Boeing earlier this week said it would halt production of its troubled 737 AX model in January as the plane’s return to flight faces further delays and inventories have built up.

The aircraft maker said it has about 400 737 MAX aircraft in storage.

The 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in March following two fatal crashes involving the plane.

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Boeing shares were down 0.91% Friday to $330.46. United was rising 0.38% to $89.56.

Boeing shares also were feeling pressure Friday after the highly anticipated launch of its Starliner spacecraft started off successfully, but failed to make it into the orbit sought by Boeing and NASA.

An Atlas V rocket vaulted the Boeing test spacecraft into orbit at 6:36 a.m. ET, with Boeing officials confirming about 15 minutes after launch that Starliner had detached from the rocket as expected.

However, the spacecraft was then supposed to conduct an "orbital insertion burn," which would orient the spacecraft on the correct path toward the International Space Station.

About 90 minutes after blastoff, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said on Twitter that the capsule will not be able to reach the space station because it burned too much fuel to get the spacecraft back on course.

Boeing and NASA officials confirmed later Friday that the Starliner was currently in an orbit that will allow it to turn back to Earth in 48 hours, which in of itself will be an important test of the landing system. 

Boeing's price target was lowered to $405 from $433 by Bernstein analyst Douglas Harned due to its decision to halt production of the MAX.