The world’s biggest planemaker is facing its most serious crisis in years, as the decades-old 737 program, one of its most reliable sources of cash and profits, takes a severe blow to its prestige.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cited new satellite data and evidence from the scene of Sunday’s crash near Addis Ababa for its decision to ground the planes.
It was the second time the FAA has halted flights of a Boeing plane in six years. It had grounded the 787 Dreamliner in 2013 because of problems with smoking batteries.
Shares of the Seattle-based company, which were up earlier in the session, fell 2 percent to $370.48. The shares have fallen about 13 percent since Sunday’s crash, losing about $32 billion of market value.
U.S. airlines that operate the 737 MAX, Southwest Airlines Co, American Airlines Group Inc and United Airlines, said they were working to re-book passengers.
Southwest is the world’s largest operator of the 737 MAX 8 with 34 jets, while American flies 24 MAX 8s and United 14 MAX 9s.
Shares of Southwest fell 0.4 percent.
“The agency made this decision as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today,” the FAA said in a statement, shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the planes would be grounded.
“This evidence, together with newly refined satellite data available to FAA this morning, led to this decision.”
The grounding will remain in effect as the FAA investigates.
Boeing, which maintained that its planes were safe to fly, said in a statement that it supported the move to temporarily ground 737 MAX flights.
“Boeing has determined - out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety - to recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft.”
The still-unexplained crash followed another involving a Boeing 737 MAX in Indonesia five months ago that killed 189 people. Although there is no proof of any link, the twin disasters have spooked passengers.
Travel website Kayak was making changes to let customers exclude specific aircraft types from searches, and booking sites were looking to reroute passengers.
The grounding was welcomed by air workers in the United States. John Samuelsen, international president of the Transport Workers Union of America, which represent aviation workers and flight attendants, said the grounding of the fleet was right “both for air travelers and aviation workers.”