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3 airlines ground aircraft at Phoenix Sky Harbor ahead of holiday season

(KTAR News Photo)

PHOENIX — Southwest, American and United Airlines have grounded the troubled Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft right before the busy holiday travel season.

One aviation expert said Phoenix Sky Harbor and other U.S. airports could face “dire circumstances.”

“There are routes that have been cut, there are new routes that can’t be flown and there can’t be any growth right now,” said Brent Bowen, professor of aeronautical science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott.

Bowen also said travelers should book their tickets now to secure seats. Demand could send prices soaring. The airlines will lack reserve aircraft.

“Phoenix Sky Harbor actually is a destination during the holiday period,” Bowen said. “So, a lot of people who are wanting to come to Phoenix may not be able to.

“It’s going to be hard to move people through the system if we have either a major weather event, or a major computer event.”

Bowen said Boeing didn’t properly test Max 8 planes because it considered them minor updates to older models.

Two crashed overseas earlier this year, killing hundreds of people.

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