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Seeing no China progress, Boeing eyes other prospective MAX buyers

Boeing is in talks with other customers about taking 737 MAX planes originally built for Chinese companies
Boeing is in talks with other customers about taking 737 MAX planes originally built for Chinese companies.

Boeing said Wednesday it is seeking other potential customers for its 737 MAX because China is still not taking delivery of the jetliners it has ordered.

Chief Financial Officer Brian West said the company was in “active discussions” with other customers about 138 planes in inventory ordered by Chinese companies.

There is “more to come and we’ll keep you updated,” West told analysts.

Executives described the outreach as part of an effort to “de-risk” Boeing’s finances given the murky outlook for the company’s China business.

China’s zero-tolerance COVID-19 policies “have reduced demand for airplanes in general,” Chief Executive Dave Calhoun said during a conference call with analysts.

“We still would like to deliver airplanes to China. We continue to support our customers,” Calhoun said.

“But we also are clear-eyed about the geopolitical risks that are out there and we are not going to impart new risks on our investors,” said Calhoun, adding, “I have not gotten a single signal … they’re going to take deliveries in the near term.”

The MAX was grounded globally following the second of two deadly crashes in March 2019 until the Federal Aviation Administration became the first major regulator to clear the plane in November 2020 to resume service following upgrades, extensive testing and new training protocols.

China was the last major Boeing market to deem the jet airworthy in December 2021. But the plane still needs to clear a few final hurdles with Chinese regulators and has not resumed service in that country.

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