A United Airlines plane takes off from San Francisco International Airport.
Gary Hershorn | Corbis News | Getty Images
Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines, said Wednesday that a firm timetable for the return of the Boeing 737 Max, which was founded after two fatalities since March, is unknown.
"Nobody knows," Munoz said in an interview with CNBC's "Squawk Box." "We've been doing this for seven months, and the important thing is that it's brought back safely."
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Boeing is endeavoring to complete a software fix and new training material, but has not yet handed it over to the regulators and doubts when the planes will fly again. Boeing has repeatedly announced that regulators will hold the aircraft airworthy in the fourth quarter.
However, airlines have canceled thousands of flights without a clear timetable, so they will not have to pay for passenger changes or last-minute crew changes.
"Obviously it hurts," Munoz said over the ground. "So we're waiting for the FAA and the regulators to do their thing."
United reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings and increased its full-year forecast after the market closed on Tuesday afternoon.
This is the pilot union of Southwest Week said they do not expect the planes to come back until at least February. Even if the regulators approve the plane for passenger repatriation, airlines will need at least a month to get the jets out of the warehouse, perform maintenance, and train thousands of pilots on the new systems aboard.
The delays increase the pressure on the CEO of Boeing Dennis Muilenburg. The company's management replaced Muilenburg last week as chairman. The separation of the roles will help him get the 737 Max up and running again.
Muilenburg is due on 30 October in front of a transport panel of the house on the design and certification of the besieged aircraft.