© United AirlinesBoeing 737 MAX
United Airlines is extending cancellations of Boeing 737 MAX flights through the holiday season until January 6, 2020, ensuring that the troubled aircraft won't resume operating passenger flights in the U.S. until next year at the earliest.
According to Reuters, the Chicago-based carrier plans to cancel more than 8,000 flights scheduled for October, November, December and early January.
"We have cooperated fully with the FAA's independent review of the MAX aircraft, and we won't put our customers and employees on that plane until regulators make their own independent assessment that it is safe to do so," the company said in a statement on Friday.
Southwest Airlines, which is the largest U.S. operator of the 737 MAX, has extended flight cancellations through January 5 while American Airlines extended cancellations through January 15 as recently as Wednesday.
The 737 MAX has been grounded all over the world since March in the wake of two crashes that killed a combined 346 people in a five-month span. Boeing has since worked to update flight control software involving angle-of-attack sensors in the anti-stall system that have been linked to both crashes.
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told Reuters that the agency will need approximately one month following the 737 MAX's certification test flight before it could clear the aircraft to return to service. However, the test flight isn't expected to occur before November 1, meaning late-November or December would be the earliest the plane would be allowed to return to the sky.
Earlier this year, a senior Boeing engineer accused the aircraft manufacturer of prioritizing cost over safety during the development of the 737 MAX in an internal ethics complaint. Meanwhile, American Airlines pilots have sought compensation for lost pay during the plane's grounding while Southwest Airlines pilots have gone so far as to sue Boeing over lost income.
Related video: Inspectors ground more Boeing planes after finding cracks in the wing [via T+L]