Thousands of flights on Boeing 737 Max passenger planes are being sold even though the aircraft are grounded after two fatal crashes, it has been reported.
A total of 346 people lost their lives in two separate crashes involving the Boeing planes in the past year.
Last October, 189 passengers and crew on a 737 Max 8 operated by Lion Air were killed when the aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia.
In March this year, 157 people died when an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed after takeoff from Addis Ababa international airport.
The crashes were triggered by fault sensor software that forced down the nose of the plane into a dive which the pilots could not prevent.
The Sunday Times reported that thousands of passengers are being sold seats on the Boeing planes even though they are still officially grounded.
It said more than 32,600 flights on 737 Max 8 and Max 9 planes have been scheduled for later this year on airlines such as United Airlines and TUI, despite regulators not yet approving their return.
The newspaper reported that flight schedules compiled by British air travel intelligence company OAG show that airlines are introducing banned 737 8s into their future flights.
More than 17,000 flights have been booked for November and 15,000 for December by airlines such as Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, Norwegian, United Airlines and Icelandair.
The only airline to operate 737 Max from the UK, TUI, has hundreds of flights scheduled in the same two months, even though six of its planes are currently grounded at Manchester Airport.
John Grant, executive vice-president of OAG Aviation, told the Sunday Times: “Our data shows that airlines are planning to reintroduce the 737 Max from the end of October for their winter schedules.
“This suggests airlines will have taken reassurances from Boeing that the plane is likely to be certified as safe by the US authorities in September or soon after.”
Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing’s chief executive, said he believed the planes would be airborne again as early as October after a scheduled test flight with the Federal Aviation Administration in the US.
One British passenger who was told he is booked to travel on the banned aircraft later this year told the Sunday Times he felt like a “guinea pig”.
Chuni Kahan, 57, a property manager from north London, was informed last week by American Airlines that he would be flying to the Caribbean in December on a 737 Max 8.
Previously, at the time of booking, he was told he would fly on an earlier 737 model. He has been denied a refund and plans to buy new flights with a different airline.
“The thought of the holiday now sends a shiver down my spine,” he said. “I don’t want to be a guinea pig.”