Trump: US grounding Boeing 737 Max 8, 9 after Ethiopia crash

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- 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 that killed 157 people.

Many nations in the world had already barred the Boeing 737 Max 8 from its airspace, but until now, the Federal Aviation Administration had been saying that it didn't have any data to show the jets are unsafe.

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Trump said Wednesday that the FAA would be making the announcement soon to ground the planes.

He says any plane currently in the air will go to its destination and then be grounded.

Trump says pilots and airlines have been notified.

He says the safety of the American people is of "paramount concern."

Southwest released the following updated statement on Wednesday afternoon:

"Southwest Airlines is immediately complying with today's FAA requirement for all U.S. airlines to ground the Boeing 737 MAX 8. As a result, we have removed our 34 MAX 8 aircraft from scheduled service. Southwest operates a fleet of more than 750 Boeing 737s, and the 34 MAX 8 aircraft account for less than five percent of our daily flights.

We have been in constant contact with the FAA and Boeing since Ethiopian Airlines' accident last Sunday. 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 that have asked for further review of the data - including information from the flight data recorder - related to the recent accident involving the MAX 8. 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.

Our goal is to operate our schedule with every available aircraft in our fleet to meet our Customers' expectations during the busy spring travel season. Additionally, to support our Customers, Southwest is offering flexible rebooking policies. Any Customer booked on a cancelled MAX 8 flight can rebook on alternate flights without any additional fees or fare differences within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city pairs. A Travel Advisory with additional information for Customers will be posted on Southwest.com.

During our 48-year history, Southwest has continuously demonstrated our commitment to Safety," said Gary Kelly, Southwest's Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. "We sincerely appreciate the trust our Customers and Employees place in our airline every day, and the Southwest Team is working diligently to minimize disruptions to our Customers' travel plans."

United Airlines released the following statement:

"Nothing is more important to United Airlines than the safety of our customers and employees. As we have said since Sunday, we have been in close contact with investigators as well as Boeing to share data and fully cooperate with regulatory authorities.

We will comply with the FAA's order and will ground our 14 737 MAX aircraft. We will remain in close touch with authorities as their investigation continues.

Since Sunday, we have been working diligently on contingency plans to prepare our fleet to minimize the impact to customers. Our MAX aircraft account for roughly 40 flights a day and through a combination of spare aircraft and rebooking customers, we do not anticipate a significant operational impact as a result of this order. We will continue to work with our customers to help minimize any disruption to their travel."

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