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Since March 2019, the first passenger flight on a Boeing 737 MAX has been to China.

Friday was the first time a Boeing (NYSE: BA)  737 MAX flew with passengers in China in almost four years. This was a big step in the U.S. planemaker’s efforts to rebuild its business in the world’s second-largest aviation market.

According to FlightRadar24, the China Southern Airlines Co Ltd domestic flight from Guangzhou to Zhengzhou took off using a MAX plane at 12:45 p.m. (04:45 GMT).

The most popular one After deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, the Boeing model was taken out of service in March 2019. It started flying again around the world in late 2020, after the plane was fixed and the pilots were trained.

Related: China Southern operates 737 MAX flights in anticipation of the model’s comeback.

China is the last major market to start flying the MAX again. This is because trade tensions with the U.S. are still going on, and China’s domestic travel demand has picked up since it stopped its “zero-COVID” policies.

Foreign airlines began flying the MAX to China in October 2022.This was a sign that China, which was the first country to stop flying the model after the crashes, was relaxing its rules.

The 737 MAX was supposed to go back into commercial service with China Southern in October 2022, but it did not fly on those flights.

When asked for comments, Boeing and China Southern did not answer right away.

top Chinese customer

Cirium data from 2019 shows that Chinese airlines had 97 of these narrow-body planes before they were grounded. China Southern is the biggest customer in China for this model. They have ordered 50 of them, and 34 of them have already been delivered.

In October, Boeing said that it had made 138 more planes for Chinese airlines that were in the United States waiting to be sent to China. It said that it had started selling the jets to other airlines because there were no clear signs that Chinese airlines would buy them soon.

China’s domestic aviation market was slow in 2022 because of random lockdowns meant to stop COVID-19. Now that COVID controls have been dropped, however, demand is on the rise.

Citi analyst Jason Gursky said that the return of the MAX was the first step toward normalising Boeing’s operations in China. He also said that it might make it possible for new planes to be sent to China.

“Boeing said at its November 2022 investor day that its long-term financial goals don’t include delivering new planes to China,” he told clients in a note on Wednesday, adding that if that changed, the goals would be much less risky.

Because of the MAX grounding, Boeing has been way behind Airbus SE (OTC:EADSY) in delivering planes to the world’s largest market for planes.

China got eight planes from Boeing in 2022, while more than 100 planes came from Airbus.

Related: Bridgewater’s position as the leading foreign hedge fund in China is cemented in 2022.

Since 2017, China hasn’t really ordered any new planes from Boeing, but last year, state-owned airlines placed a huge order for nearly 300 Airbus planes.

Both Western companies face new competition on the market from the Chinese C919 narrow-body jet, which was approved last year but will take some time to get up to speed.


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