Boeing Makes First Passenger Jet Delivery to China Since 2019

By Spyros Georgilidakis | December 23, 2023

A 787 flew to China this week, marking the first delivery of a passenger jet to China from Boeing, since 2019. But what about the 737 MAX?

On several previous occasions, there were rumors that delivery of a Boeing passenger jet to China was “about to happen”. But then something else went wrong, stopping this development. Or, for whatever reason, nothing happened.

Boeing Makes First Passenger Jet Delivery to China Since 2019
A Juneyao Air 787-9. Photo: Tang Xiaoyuan

To be clear, Boeing has been making the odd delivery of a freighter to customers in China, over these last few years. Plus, according to Reuters, a lessor delivered another 787 to an operator in the country in 2021.

However, the last time the American manufacturer delivered a new passenger aircraft to a Chinese customer directly, was in 2019. And it was a 737 MAX. The worldwide groundings of the 737 MAX fleet stopped these deliveries.

Photo: N509FZ, CC BY-SA 4.0

Boeing 2023 China Delivery – More to Follow?

Boeing remained active in China in different ways, like conversions of passenger jets to freighters. The company also has a finishing facility in the country, where new aircraft get their interiors. But Boeing has been effectively locked out of China’s passenger jet market.

Boeing Makes First Passenger Jet Delivery to China Since 2019
Photo: P. K. Koo

This may have started to change on Friday. This Boeing delivery involved a 787-9, to Juneyao Airlines in China. The aircraft has registration B-20EQ and actually, it is already over three years old. It made its first flight in August 2020.

The aircraft flew from Everett Paine Field (KPAE) in Washington State, to Shanghai Pudong (ZSPD) in China. In the previous days, it made what seemed like airline acceptance flights. Juneyao already had six 787s in its fleet, all of them 787-9s. It is a privately owned airline.

The big question now is whether or not this delivery signals the start of more Boeing aircraft deliveries to China. Recent geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China seem lower than in previous months.

Photo: Boeing

The big bet, for Boeing, is the fate of dozens of undelivered 737 MAX narrowbodies, to Chinese customers. China’s aviation regulator has ungrounded the 737 MAX fleet, but deliveries of more of them have yet to restart.

However, many analysts have pointed out that China’s aviation industry can’t rely solely on Airbus. Its production of “home-grown” C919s and ARJ21s is still too slow to allow its home airlines to renew their fleets.


Leave the first comment