Boeing 737 MAX makes first passenger flight in China since March 2019
A Boeing Co BA.N 737 MAX made its first passenger flight in China in nearly four years on Friday, marking a major milestone in the US planemaker's attempt to rebuild its business in the world's second-largest aviation market.
The China Southern Airlines Co Ltd domestic flight from Guangzhou to Zhengzhou departed at 12:45pm (4:45am GMT) using a MAX plane, according to flight-tracking website FlightRadar24.
The best-selling Boeing model was grounded in March 2019 after fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, but returned to service around the world starting in late 2020 after modifications to the aircraft and pilot training.
China is the last major market to resume flying the MAX.
Foreign airlines began flying the MAX to China in October 2022, in a sign the first country to ground the model after the crashes was loosening its policies.
China Southern had scheduled a return to commercial service for the 737 MAX in October 2022 but did not use it on the planned flights.
Boeing and China Southern did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Top Chinese customer
Chinese airlines had 97 of the narrow-body planes before the grounding, according to Cirium data in 2019. China Southern is the biggest Chinese customer for the model, with 50 on order, of which 34 have been delivered.
Boeing in October said it had another 138 planes manufactured for Chinese carriers that were in the United States waiting to be delivered. It said it had begun remarketing the jets to other carriers given there were no concrete signs that Chinese airlines would accept the planes in the near term.
China's domestic aviation market was depressed in 2022 because of sporadic COVID-19 lockdowns, but demand is rising now that COVID controls have been lifted.