• Boeing hopes to resume deliveries of the 737 MAX to mainland China after restrictions were eased, with China Southern expected to be the first recipient.
  • The Chinese government had placed restrictions on the MAX fleet following two fatal crashes, causing Boeing to lose market share against Airbus.
  • China Southern was the first to relaunch MAX operations earlier this year, with other carriers following suit, and most of the fleet has now returned to service.

After a four-year pause, aircraft manufacturer Boeing is patiently awaiting the opportunity to recommence deliveries of the 737 MAX to mainland China. The Chinese government had grounded its 96 units in 2019 following two fatal crashes.

Guangzhou-based China Southern led the pack earlier this year with restrictions easing and resumed its MAX operations. The carrier is also likely to be the first recipient from the resumption of deliveries. However, the airline declined to confirm this, as reported by Bloomberg.

A Boeing 737 MAX 8 taking off.
Photo: Boeing

While a date of when deliveries is not yet confirmed, and Boeing declined to comment about its resumption date, numerous other media outlets have stated it could be imminent. With that news, stocks in New York for Boeing raised 3%.

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Boeing is ready for China.

The manufacturer remained at the mercy of the Chinese government until restrictions had eased; in a statement from Boeing, they noted:

“We continue to support our customers in China, with more than 95% of their current 737 MAX fleet in service. For deliveries, we will be ready to deliver for our customers when that time comes.”

China was the first country to ground the Boeing variant after Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air experienced fatal accidents, which both saw all passengers perish.

Boeing 737 MAX
Photo: Boeing

October 29th, 2018, saw the first fatal accident for the MAX, with a Lion Air flight JT610, from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang crashing into the Java Sea 13 minutes after take-off; the accident saw all 189 passengers and crew killed.

The second incident was for Ethiopian Airlines, ET302, departing from Addis Ababa on March 10th, 2019, destined for Nairobi, Kenya, crashed, killing the 157 people onboard only six minutes after takeoff.

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China Southern is the first to relaunch MAX operations.

January this year saw China Southern relaunch its MAX operations, with other carriers following suit. By June, over 90% of the variant had returned to service, predominantly on regional routes.

With growing tension between the United States and China, alongside the MAX grounding, the US manufacturer has lost market share against its European rival Airbus. However, as reported by Reuters in April, Boeing had continued manufacturing the aircraft for Chinese customers, with 130 MAX then completed and destined for China.

According to data from Airfleets, the largest of the three ' significant carriers' is China Southern, which currently operates 23 of the 737 MAX 8, with one stored and another 25 on order. Air China has 12 in operation, two grounded, and 12 additional on order. Lastly, China Eastern has three in operation, with two more on Boeing's books for delivery.

Sources: Bloomberg, Reuters, Airfleets CZ, Airfleets CA, Airfleets MU

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