China: Boeing 737 MAX takes first flight after staying grounded for four years

China Southern Airlines became the first Chinese carrier to employ a Boeing 737 MAX passenger aircraft after staying inoperative for four years. On Friday, two Boeing 737 Max 8s took flight from the airline’s hub at Guangzhou Baiyun Internation Airport (CAN). Their destinations were Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport (CGO) and Wuhan Tianhe International Airport (WUH), respectively. 

The first flight from Guangzhou to Zhenzhou, CZ3960, took off at 12:45, operated by aircraft B-1206 from 2017, according to Shortly after, the second flight, CZ8276, from Guangzhou to Wuhan departed at 14:26. B-1127, delivered to the airline in September 2018, operated the second flight. 

In 2019, China grounded the Boeing 737 MAX becoming the first country to do so, following the crashes by Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines, leaving 346 dead. 

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However, in December 2021, the airline authorities declared the aircraft fit for service. But the Chinese airlines took their time to prepare the flight for back-to-the-field action due to the strained relations between the United States and China. 

As the country opens borders ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays, China’s airlines have to meet a significant rise in demand for domestic and international air travel. 

In October 2022, MIAT Mongolian Airlines became the first one to bring the aircraft Boeing 737 MAX to China after the grounding. However, China Southern Airlines pushed the aircraft’s schedule to operate several flights for China Southern Airlines. Earlier, uncertainties about the Boeing 737 MAX left its future in doubt.

(With inputs from agencies)

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