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U.S.-European Friction Over Wiring Is Latest Complication for 737 MAX Return

Potentially hazardous wiring inside Boeing Co. BA -0.74% ’s 737 MAX jets is the latest flashpoint between U.S. and European regulators and a further complication in the grounded fleet’s return to service, according to people familiar with the details.

Technical experts at the European Union Aviation Safety Agency want certain electrical wires relocated to reduce what they say are dangers from potential short circuits, which in a worst-case scenario could disrupt flight-control systems, according to these people.

In addition to the Federal Aviation Administration’s ongoing safety review of proposed fixes to the MAX, the European agency is independently vetting such changes.

But engineers at the Chicago plane maker and high-ranking FAA managers, including the agency’s top safety official, contend moving the wiring isn’t necessary, one of these people said. Boeing hasn’t yet submitted its formal recommendation, though the issue is headed for a decision in the next few weeks by FAA head Steve Dickson.

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Southwest Flew Millions on Jets With Unconfirmed Maintenance Records, Government Report Says

A government report to be released in coming days says Southwest Airlines Co. LUV failed to prioritize safety and the airline’s regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, hasn’t done enough about it.

Southwest pilots flew more than 17 million passengers on planes with unconfirmed maintenance records over roughly two years, and in 2019 smashed both wingtips of a jet on a runway while repeatedly trying to land amid gale-force winds, according to the Transportation Department report, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The lapses are highlighted in a draft audit by the agency’s inspector general that also criticizes the FAA’s oversight of the carrier as lax, ineffective and inconsistent. The document indicates no agency enforcement action resulted from those safety slip-ups or certain other alleged hazards. In some cases, the report alleges, the FAA’s overall approach served to “justify continued noncompliance with safety regulations.”

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Today’s Logistics Report: Parceling Out Profits; Amazon’s Shipping Prime; Flipping Reverse Logistics

United Parcel Service Inc.’s close work with Amazon.com Inc. is paying off for the package carrier. The package carrier’s shipping volume and operating profit jumped sharply in the fourth quarter, the WSJ’s Paul Ziobro reports, as UPS gets cozier than ever with the largest online retailer in the U.S. while rival FedEx Corp. focuses on retailers competing with the e-commerce behemoth. UPS Chief Executive David Abney says Amazon now makes up 11.6% of the company’s annual revenue, but that other major retailers all are shipping more with the carrier. The company’s pricier air express services grew at a double-digit pace during 2019, including a 25.9% year-over-year gain in next-day air shipments in the fourth quarter. FedEx’s overnight air shipments have declined in three of the past four quarters and SJ Consulting says UPS now holds a bigger share of the next-day market than its Memphis-based rival.

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Airlines Shouldn’t Always Listen to Their Customers

The financial results of European budget leader Ryanair suggest there is more bark than bite in complaints about unbundled air fares.  “Just raise my ticket price instead of loading me up with extra charges, and I’ll pay.” Evidence from the airline industry suggests this is something people say but don’t do.

The trend of “unbundling”—dividing a product up into different payable segments—has picked up pace again among carriers. It was pioneered by the likes of Southwest and European budget leader Ryanair, RYAAY +5.93% but full-service brands like Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and British Airways eventually followed suit with “basic economy” fares. Now, Lufthansa and Emirates—which focuses more than most on the luxury market—are testing the waters of unbundling in business class.

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Breaking News - From Avmark Newsletter

  • U.S.-European Friction Over Wiring Is Latest Complication for 737 MAX Return

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  • Southwest Flew Millions on Jets With Unconfirmed Maintenance Records, Government Report Says

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  • Today’s Logistics Report: Parceling Out Profits; Amazon’s Shipping Prime; Flipping Reverse Logistics

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