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South Florida airports feeling effects of Boeing 737 grounding

Southwest, American, United use planes in their fleets

MIAMI – The U.S. government's decision to ground the Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft over safety concerns Wednesday is already affecting travel at South Florida airports.

Jack Varela, a spokesman for Miami International Airport, said 19 departures on American Airlines have been canceled and 10 more arrivals are expected to be grounded.

Officials at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport are still assessing the impact of the ruling, but Southwest Airlines, which has Boeing 737 Max aircraft in its fleet, is the largest carrier there.

American Airlines has 24 Boeing 737 Max planes, Southwest Airlines has 34 and United Airlines has 14. Air Canada, which has 24 737 Max 8 planes, also flies out of the Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said two school trips to Washington, D.C., and New York City have been affected by the grounding.

"Rest assured that students will not be traveling on those planes, and alternate arrangements are being made," Carvalho said.

Stephen Lloyd, a former Federal Aviation Administration official, said travelers will feel the impact of the grounding the most on Wednesday and possibly Thursday, as airlines rearrange their schedules to compensate.

However, as the grounding continue travelers aren't as likely to feel the effects because the Boeing 737 Max craft are only small part of American and Southwest's overall fleets.

"It's certainly going to be felt, but it's really only a small handful of planes that were talking about here," Lloyd said.

Lloyd said it's too early to tell how long the groundings will last. He said airlines have some reserve aircraft, but not enough to make up for the dozens of planes taken out of commission. 

An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 arriving from Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport is seen taxiing to its gate at the Miami International Airport.

He advises travelers in the coming days and possibly weeks to keep checking on their flight schedules because they may change.

The decision to ground the aircraft came after two Boeing 737 Max craft were involved in two fatal crashes recently. At first, U.S. regulators resisted calls for the aircraft to be grounded, but reversed course after dozens of foreign countries stopped the Boeing 737 Max from flying.