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B787 delivery sign of air travel recovery

By ZHU WENQIAN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-12-23 07:06
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A view of the Boeing B787 aircraft. CHINA DAILY

Boeing Co delivered a new B787 aircraft to Chinese private carrier Juneyao Airlines on Thursday in Seattle (the United States), indicating recovery in the both US aircraft manufacturer's production capacity and China's international air travel market following the COVID-19 outbreak.

The B787-9 aircraft is the plane maker's first widebody aircraft delivered to a Chinese mainland carrier in nearly three years. The airplane took off from Paine Field in Everett, and arrived at Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Friday afternoon, Boeing said.

Some foreign media outlets said the aircraft delivery is an indication that Boeing is moving a step closer to resuming new deliveries of its B737 MAX — a separate model of aircraft — to China after a more than four-year freeze.

Orders and deliveries of Boeing aircraft to Chinese carriers were largely suspended after two fatal crashes of the single-aisle B737 MAX in 2018 and 2019.

Experts, however, said the delivery of the new B787 aircraft is not directly related to potential deliveries of the B737 MAX.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China did not respond to requests for comment.

Commercial flights of the B737 MAX have resumed since late 2020 in most parts of the world, including in China.

Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines restarted operations of the B737 MAX for domestic commercial flights in January.

"The new delivery indicates that Boeing's global delivery capability of the B787 model has been further restored, and new aircraft have been delivered to customers worldwide," said Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst.

"Besides, as the first delivery of the B787 in China in nearly three years, it also shows that China's international travel market is gradually recovering, and this is a milestone," Lin said.

Boeing said in a statement that it will continue to support its customers in China and will be ready to deliver for customers at the scheduled times.

"This is the seventh B787 plane that we delivered to Juneyao Airlines. We believe that it will continue to help the carrier to expand its international network," said Peter Gao, Boeing's vice-president for China commercial sales and marketing.

China's air travel market has been on a steady track of recovery since the country optimized its COVID-19 response measures late last year. This year, the country is expected to handle about 620 million air passenger trips, up 146 percent year-on-year, according to an estimate by Flight Master, a travel services platform in China.

Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association announced higher profitability projections for airlines in 2023, expecting profits to largely stabilize in 2024.

Next year, airline industry's net profit is expected to reach $25.7 billion, a slight improvement over 2023, when it is expected to achieve a net profit of $23.3 billion.



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