Boeing’s Stan Deal meets with China‘s aviation regulator at problematic time

Boeing's BCA CEO Stan Deal met with China's regulator amidst a commercially difficult time for Boeing
Suparat Chairatprasert /

Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) chief executive officer Stan Deal has met with representatives for the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) in Bejing, China. 

According to the regulator, Deal met Song Zhiyong, the administrator of the Chinese regulator on July 12, 2023.  

“The two sides exchanged in-depth views on Boeing’s business development in China and strengthening Sino-US civil aviation cooperation,” the CAAC noted in an announcement.  

The Chinese market has been a headache for Boeing for a number of years now.  

Between 2019 and June 30, 2023, the manufacturer delivered just 78 aircraft to an aviation market that is said will overshadow the United States (US), particularly as the Asian country begins its economic recovery following a series of strict COVID-19 lockdowns and re-opens for international and domestic travel. 

During the same period, Boeing delivered 1,545 aircraft globally (excluding China’s 78 deliveries), according to the planemaker’s Orders & Deliveries data. 

The orders tab in the data is not a source of joy either, with Chinese airlines only ordering 39 aircraft between 2019 and June 30, 2023, of which Hong Kong-based Greater Bay Airlines ordered 15 737 MAX aircraft, while Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) Leasing ordered three aircraft of the type. The remaining 21 orders were for the Boeing 777F. 

The CAAC was also the last regulator, barring Russia, to unground the 737 MAX. While the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did so in November 2020, with other Western authorities following suit within a span of several months, the Chinese regulator did not unground the type until January 2023. China Southern Airlines operated the first flight with the type on January 13, 2023. 

Currently, there are 86 active 737 MAXs in China, according to data. 

Boeing’s slowdown in China is largely linked to a troubling relationship between the US and China. When the US Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen visited China in early July 2023, she said during her first meeting that she was “particularly troubled by punitive actions that have been taken against U.S. firms in recent months”. 

“Our economic relationship with China must work for American workers and businesses. I will always champion your interests and work to make sure there is a level playing field,” Yellen added.  

In contrast, Airbus, Boeing’s main rival, has been widely successful in China. In April 2023, the European planemaker announced that it will introduce another Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Tianjin, China, where it already assembles the A320neo family aircraft and houses a wide-body completion and delivery center (C&DC) for the A330 and A350. 

During the announcement of the second FAL in China, which is scheduled to open by late 2025, Airbus also signed a General Terms Agreement (GTA) with China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CAS). 

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