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Phoenix Sky Harbor not seeing much impact after US grounds Boeing jets

A worker walks up steps to the right of an avionics truck parked next to a Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane being built for TUI Group at Boeing Co.'s Renton Assembly Plant Wednesday, March 13, 2019, in Renton, Wash. President Donald Trump says the U.S. is issuing an emergency order grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft in the wake of a crash of an Ethiopian Airliner. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

PHOENIX — The biggest airport in Phoenix was not seeing much impact after President Donald Trump grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft in the wake of an Ethiopian airliner crash that killed 157 people.

Spokeswoman Heather Lissner told KTAR News 92.3 FM that there were two Southwest Airlines aircraft of that type that were heading to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport when the restriction was announced.

Lissner said in an email that travelers are encouraged to check their flight status with their airline before coming to the airport.

“The airlines are going to be the best source of information for number of aircraft serving (Phoenix),” she said.

In a statement, Southwest Airlines said it was immediately complying with the Federal Aviation Administration’s requirement to ground the aircraft and has removed it from scheduled service.

The airline said there are only 34 Max 8 aircraft in service for daily flights out of its fleet of more than 750 Boeing 737s.

“While we remain confident in the Max 8 after completing more than 88,000 flight hours accrued over 41,000 flights, we support the actions of the FAA and other regulatory agencies and governments across the globe,” part of the statement read.

“The safety of our customers and employees is our uncompromising priority, and today’s action reflects the commitment to supporting the current investigations and regulatory concerns.”

Trump issued the emergency order Wednesday, hours after Canada joined some 40 other countries in barring the Max 8 from its airspace.

The FAA said “new information from the wreckage” of the Ethiopia crash, along with satellite-based tracking of the flight path, indicated some similarities with a Lion Air crash in the Java Sea that killed 187 people in October.

The information “warrants further investigation of the possibility of a shared cause for the two incidents that needs to be better understood and addressed,” the FAA said in a statement.

Trump, who had received assurances Monday from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg that the Max aircraft was sound, said the safety of the American people is of “paramount concern.”

Trump said any plane currently in the air will go to its destination and then be grounded, adding that pilots and airlines have been notified.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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