© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People exit a Boeing 737 Max plane at Dallas Fort Worth Airport after a media flight to Tulsa
By Chris Kahn and Tracy Rucinski
NEW YORK / CHICAGO (Reuters) – Over time, Americans have become less familiar with two fatal Boeing (NYSE 🙂 737 MAX crashes. However, if they were made aware of these disasters, more than half say they would likely avoid the plane, according to a Reuters / Ipsos opinion poll.
Poll results, released on December 28, the day before the 737 MAX resumed commercial flights in the US, found that 39% of adults were familiar with the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes in October 2018 and March 2019 were, up from roughly half in 2018 a previous survey.
Of these respondents, 73% correctly identified Boeing as the manufacturer of the aircraft involved in the crashes, compared to 82% who said so in the May 2019 survey.
However, when respondents were told about the aircraft's safety issues, 57% said they would probably not fly a Boeing 737 MAX, while 37% said they would likely fly a Boeing 737 MAX after six months or less was longer in the air.
"We continue to work closely with global regulators and our customers to support the safe return of the fleet to worldwide service," a Boeing spokesman responded to the survey.
The US Federal Aviation Administration lifted a 20-month safety ban on Nov. 18 after approving design changes by Boeing to address systems that played a role in both crashes, which resulted in the death of 346 people. All airlines must complete mandatory safety changes and new pilot training before accepting passengers.
American Airlines (NASDAQ 🙂 will resume passenger flights between Miami and New York on Tuesday and plans to gradually reintroduce the 737 MAX fleet.
The airline said it would rebook customers who are uncomfortable with the plane.
"Nobody has to go to MAX if they don't want to, but it's there if you want," said David Seymour, US chief operating officer, at a 737 MAX media event on December 2nd.
Boeing's 737 MAX is making its comeback at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has driven the industry into dire straits. Airlines are parking hundreds of jets as demand is 30% of the level in 2019.
When the 737 MAX was discontinued, U.S. airlines had to cancel flights because they lacked the aircraft to meet demand, increasing Boeing's financial liability.
Now airlines are postponing jet deliveries and don't expect a robust recovery until COVID-19 vaccines are widespread.
The survey shows that air travel will recover prepandemic rates after the health crisis subsides and that travelers still view ticket prices as the most important factor when choosing a flight, followed by steps taken by airlines to protect them from the spread of the coronavirus.
When buying a plane ticket, 41% said the price of the ticket was most important and 24% said that COVID-19 security measures were in place, such as: B. Whether airlines block middle seats.
Only 3% said the airplane model was the most important.
When asked how they wanted to travel "when the coronavirus pandemic ends," 10% said they would travel by air at least once a month for personal reasons, and 34% said they would travel at least once a year, similarly as with their reported pre-pandemic travel habits.
The survey found similar trends for business travel, a driver of airline revenue – 7% said they fly at least once a month, while 17% said they travel at least a few times a year.
The survey has a confidence interval, a measure of accuracy, of 3 percentage points.
Of the other US airlines that owned the 737 MAX before it landed, United Airlines plans to fly the jet again in February and Southwest Airlines (NYSE 🙂 – the world's largest 737 MAX operator – in the second quarter of 2021.
Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes, Brazil's largest airline, was the first to restart 737 MAX flights this month, followed by Grupo Aeromexico.