Flight-booking site Kayak rolled out a new search feature Friday that allows users to exclude specific plane models from their options, following Sunday’s deadly crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 jet in Ethiopia.
Passengers don’t need to worry about flying in 737 Max models now, because the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday joined regulators around the world in grounding the planes. The FAA cited new evidence that showed similarities between the Ethiopia crash and another deadly one involving a 737 Max 8 almost five months ago off Indonesia.
However, airlines expect the Max models to be grounded for only a few months and will likely be booking flights on these models for later on, said Steve Hafner, co-founder and CEO of Kayak, a unit of Booking Holdings, formerly Priceline. They’re out of service on a temporary basis, he said on CNBC’s “Squawk Alley.” “In reality, airlines are still planning on flying those planes in the summer. People want security and comfort when they fly.”
Booking rates on Kayak haven’t been going down, Hafner said, adding that the site has seen more search activity as people try to make changes to their disrupted flights.
“In reality, the 737 Max isn’t that widespread in the U.S.,” Hafner said. Only 74 of the more than 370 Boeing 737 Max jets are flown by U.S. airlines. However, the series is one of the company’s top sellers. Boeing is making 52 of these models per month in order to keep up with the 3,800 orders, he said.
Shares of Boeing plunged following Sunday’s crash, losing $26.6 billion in market value on Monday and Tuesday. But the stock rose more than 2 percent Friday, following a report that the company plans to roll out a software fix sooner than expected.
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