Boeing 737 MAX jet on route to Chinese customer for first time in four years

Boeing 737 MAX 8
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A Boeing 737 MAX 8 is currently making its way to China so it can be delivered to its new owner, China Southern Airlines. 

The Boeing 737 MAX 8, registered B-20C8, set off from its Seatle base on January 24, 2024, shortly before 12pm local time. 

The aircraft, which flew with a China Southern flight number, landed in Honolulu International Airport (HNL) in Hawaii at 4.42pm where it stayed overnight.  

It is expected that the aircraft will reach its final destination in China on January 24, 2024.  

The delivery is significant because it is the first 737 MAX to be delivered to a Chinese airline customer since 2019.  

While the original grounding of the 737 MAX 8 aircraft in China was initiated following the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines tragedies in 2018 and 2019, all Boeing aircraft were subsequently frozen out of the Chinese market.  

This was compounded by rising tensions between the United States (US) and Beijing over trade and geo-politics.  

While safety bans on the 737 MAX 8 had already been lifted so the aircraft type could operate within China, new deliveries have been off the menu. 

In December 2023, Boeing received clearance from China’s aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), for 737 MAX deliveries to resume. 

During the same month, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner was delivered to Juneyao Airlines, a privately owned Chinese carrier, signifying the first aircraft delivered by the planemaker since 2019.  

Following the Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 plug door blowout on January 5, 2024, Boeing has faced huge scrutiny so the delivery of the 737-8 could represent a welcome glimmer of hope for the future.  

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