China Southern plans Boeing 737 MAX flights, hinting a possible comeback
A possible ungrounding of the model in China was indicated by the China Southern Airlines mobile application, which featured multiple flights made using the Boeing 737 MAX.
On January 13, 2022, there are flights scheduled between Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN) and Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport (CGO), as well as another route between CAN and Wuhan Tianhe International Airport (WUH).
This would be the first Boeing 737 MAX commercial flight in China since the model was grounded in March 2019 as a result of the plane’s second catastrophic disaster, this time in Ethiopia.
The 737 MAX has been unground by international regulators since late 2020 and early 2021, but China has remained an exception in terms of the model’s return to operation. Only in October 2022, when foreign carriers started using their 737 MAXs to fly into Chinese airports, was Boeing’s newest narrow-body aircraft permitted to operate there.
On October 10, 2022, MIAT Mongolian Airlines became the first airline to accomplish this feat as its Boeing 737 MAX touched down at CAN.
China Southern Airlines also planned to use the narrow-body aircraft for commercial trips in the same month. But none of these flights ever happened.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), China’s aviation watchdog, and Boeing held a meeting in September 2022 to discuss the 737 MAX’s potential resumption to service in China.
The release of the second revision of the Aircraft Evaluation Report on Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will signal that “the process for re-introducing 737 MAX planes is nearing conclusion,” according to the CAAC’s announcement at the time, “after the problems that were identified in the meeting are resolved.”
97 of the type of aircraft were in the fleets of Chinese operators prior to the groundings. Data from planespotters.net shows that a further 137 units are awaiting delivery. When United Airlines and Boeing jointly announced an order for 200 aircraft (100 737 MAX and 100 787s), Boeing
CEO David Calhoun stated that “for geopolitical reasons, I am thinking, we have been unable to complete the deliveries that we would like to make to our Chinese clients.” We still have planes on the tarmac that they [Chinese airlines – ed. note] can take, Calhoun noted.
The white tail plane was reportedly in Air India’s sights as it looked to update and expand its fleet. The Indian carrier planned to acquire up to 190 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, some of which were intended for immediate delivery to Chinese carriers but were instead ordered for the Indian carrier.