“Our people have done an incredible job managing through the MAX groundings, while providing the highest levels of customer service and one of the best operational performances in our history,” Kelly said in a news release.
The Boeing planes have been grounded worldwide since March, after the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight. It was the second crash involving a 737 Max in less than five months. In all, 346 people died in the tragedies.
In October, Southwest reported that the grounding of the 737 Max had cost the airline $435 million through the end of September. Southwest has 34 Max jets in its fleet. The planes continue to be grounded pending FAA flight approval.
The company emphasized that the agreement is only a partial settlement and that it continues “to engage in ongoing discussions with Boeing regarding compensation for damages related to the Max groundings.”
In a statement, a Boeing spokesman said: “We do not comment on discussions with particular customers, but we are working closely with all of them to support them through this difficult time.”
Southwest’s pilots union is also suing Boeing. In a suit filed in October, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association alleged that the company deliberately misled the organization and its members about the safety of the Max. According to the suit, the grounding of the jetliner caused the elimination of more than 30,000 scheduled flights and resulted in financial losses of more than $100 million for the airline’s more than 9,700 pilots.
The case is awaiting a federal judge’s determination about whether it will be heard in federal court or sent back to Texas state court, where it was originally filed.
In a memo sent to its membership this week, Jon Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said employees appreciated that Boeing has recognized the importance of compensating employees for the financial hardships they have endured as a result of the grounding.
However, he added that the union will continue to pursue its claim against Boeing.
“SWAPA feels that the Southwest/Boeing agreement only solidifies our legal claim,” he wrote. “We look forward to obtaining the specific details of the Boeing/Southwest agreement in the discovery process during litigation.”
Boeing said that while it will continue to work with pilots on returning the Max planes to service, it disagreed with the allegations in the lawsuit.
“Boeing has the greatest respect for the men and women who fly for Southwest Airlines,” Boeing spokesman Peter P. Pedraza said in a statement. “We are aware that their pilot union, SWAPA, has filed a lawsuit against Boeing related to the 737 MAX suspension of operations. We believe this lawsuit is meritless and will vigorously defend against it.”