DOJ opens investigation into Alaska Airlines incident of door panel blowing out midair, WSJ says

An Alaska airlines Boeing 737 is taking off from Los Angeles International AirPort (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, on March 6, 2024.

Daniel Slim | Afp | Getty Images

The Justice Department has started a criminal investigation into the Alaska Airlines incident where a door panel blew out mid-air two months ago, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

The newspaper, citing documents and people familiar with the matter, said investigators have contacted passengers, pilots and flight attendants on Flight 1282 on Jan. 5 heading to Ontario, California from Portland, Oregon, where a section of the plane ripped off midair, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing.

The investigation would help the DOJ its in review of whether Boeing complied with an previous settlement of a federal investigation into two fatal 737 Max crashes in 2018 and 2019, the Journal said.

“In an event like this, it’s normal for the DOJ to be conducting an investigation,” an Alaska Airlines spokesperson said. “We are fully cooperating and do not believe we are a target of the investigation.” 

The DOJ declined to comment. Boeing didn’t immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.

Boeing 737 Max 9 planes flown by Alaska have resumed regular service after being grounded for inspections. Alaska and United Airlines, the two U.S. carriers that fly the Max 9, canceled thousands of flights in January after the incident.

Three passengers are suing Boeing and Alaska Airlines for $1 billion in damages, accusing Boeing and Alaska Airlines of negligence for allegedly having ignored warning signs.

Alaska Airlines earlier estimated that the weekslong grounding of the Boeing 737 Max 9 will cost the carrier $150 million.

— Read the original WSJ story here.

— CNBC’s Rebecca Picciotto contributed reporting.