Boeing looking for new buyers for Chinese rejected B737 MAXs

Boeing officials said on Thursday that they will find new buyers for Boeing 737 Max jets that were built for Chinese airlines but can’t be delivered because China’s aviation regulator has not cleared the plane to fly after two deadly crashes.

Boeing hopes the move will reduce its inventory of undelivered Max jets, which built up while the planes were grounded around the world.

However, the decision risks adding to the tension between the aircraft manufacturer and China, which was once Boeing’s biggest market for the Max.

Boeing had 290 undelivered 737s in inventory as of June 30, with about half of them earmarked for China, company officials said.

Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft had run into regulatory trouble in different countries after a string of accidents, resulting in the aircraft being banned. Seventeen regulators in various countries had lifted the ban since then, and China was the only country still yet to budge.

Boeing’s hopes were raised last December when China’s aviation regulator took a major step toward letting airlines resume using the Max. In February, Chinese airlines ran flight tests.

But the Civil Aviation Administration of China has not taken the final steps to allow Max flights and deliveries to resume, which Boeing officials blame on COVID-19 lockdowns. China is the last major market where the Max is still awaiting approval to fly.

Boeing expects the commercial aviation services market in China is worth USD 1.8 trillion.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approved changes Boeing made to the plane in late 2020, and regulators in Europe, Canada and Brazil have followed suit.

China is an important market for Boeing, and it estimates that Chinese airlines will likely require 8,700 new airplanes by 2040 that could be worth USD 1.47 trillion. By Boeing’s projections, Chinese demand for widebody airplanes could make up 20% of its global deliveries by 2040.

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The importance of the Chinese market to Boeing was underscored in July when China’s three largest airlines ordered nearly 300 planes from its European rival Airbus.