Boeing 737 MAX jets continue China journey amid uncertainty over model return According to Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A model of a Boeing 737 Max aircraft is displayed at the China International Aviation and Space Exhibition, or Airshow China, in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China September 28, 2021. REUTERS/ Aly Song / File Photo

By Jamie Freed

(Reuters) -A Boeing (NYSE:Co 737 MAX) destined for a subsidiary of China Eastern Airlines (NYSE:Shanghai Airlines) was flying from Guam to Shanghai on Thursday, flight tracking websites showed, amid uncertainty as to when the plane will resume flying in China .

Flight BOE631 comes more than three weeks after the first 737 MAX was delivered to a Chinese customer since its 2019 landing that began its journey from Seattle to Boeing’s finishing plant in Zhoushan.

The mint-painted Shanghai Airlines plane has been stuck on the ground in Guam since March 15 due to a minor technical problem. It will land at around 11:30 a.m. local time Shanghai (03:30 GMT), tracking sites show.

Boeing declined to comment on the flight but said it continues to work with customers and global regulators to get the MAX back in service.

The flight to Shanghai, which is under strict COVID-19 lockdown, comes as Chinese authorities scrutinize China Eastern’s safety procedures following the 737-800 crash on Jan. March 21 killed all 132 people on board.

While that model is a forerunner to the MAX, analysts say it could hamper Boeing’s efforts to regain a foothold in the world’s largest jet market and provide more 140 737 MAX planes have been built for Chinese customers.

China’s aviation regulator in early December provided airlines with a list of fixes needed before the airline’s return to commercial flight, which is expected to happen early this year. However, so far there have only been test flights.

China Eastern has grounded all of its 223 737-800 planes as a precaution while the crash is investigated. Chinese authorities are leading the investigation, but the US National Transportation Safety Board is helping them read the plane’s black boxes.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, China Eastern risks consequences including fines, plane landings and adverse treatment when applying for routes, said Morningstar analyst Cheng Weng. new airport location.

China Eastern has not yet made any forecast for when it expects MAX deliveries to resume, although rival China Southern Airlines said last week it could lose some planes this year.

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