China Grounds 737 MAX Aircraft
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 from Addis Ababa (ADD) to Nairobi, Kenya (NBO) crashed shortly after takeoff Sunday, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board. This was the second crash involving a 737 MAX aircraft in the last few months, and it bears a striking resemblance to the Lion Air crash that killed 189 people in October. Not only were both flights operated by relatively new 737 MAX aircraft, but both crashes occurred shortly after takeoff after the pilots failed to maintain a steady climb. In both cases, weather did not appear to play a role, suggesting the existence of other contributing factors.
Now, Beijing has asked Chinese airlines to ground all 737 MAX aircraft, according to Chinese news organization Caijing. There are currently about 75 737 MAX aircraft in service in China, operated by a number of airlines including Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Shanghai Airlines, Xiamen Air, Shandong Airlines and Shenzhen Airlines. China Southern is currently the largest Chinese operator of the next-gen 737 MAX aircraft, with 24 in its fleet — including 4 leased aircraft — and a total of 50 on order.
The directive has already gone into effect, and currently there are no 737 MAXs flying in China. On many prominent routes, airlines are swapping in older 737 aircraft to operate these flights. China Southern Flight 353 from Guangzhou (CAN) to Singapore (SIN) has been operated almost exclusively by a 737 MAX 8, but today it was operated by a 737-800 instead.
With no indication of how long this order could last, airlines are already adjusting their schedules moving forward. Shanghai Airlines Flight 9374 from Shanghai (SHA) to Xiamen (XMN) has switched from a 737 MAX to a 737-800 for the foreseeable future.
Grounding this many planes is sure to lead to a large number of flight delays and cancellations and overall travel disruptions. If you’re scheduled to fly on a Chinese-operated 737 MAX in the near future, make sure to keep an eye on your flight status.
This directive to ground all Boeing 737 MAXs comes while China is working on growing its own aerospace engineering industry. China recently began test flights on the C919, a ~170-seat single-aisle aircraft meant to compete directly with the 737 and Airbus A320. This would represent the first Chinese-designed and produced aircraft, and a serious threat to Boeing and Airbus’ duopoly in the single-aisle jet market.
It’s worth noting that Cayman Airways has also announced that it will suspend all of its 737 MAX operations, and it’s likely that other airlines and countries will follow suit in the coming days and weeks pending a full investigation into the Ethiopian Airlines crash and a safety review of the plane’s design and operating procedures.
For more information, read what industry experts have to say about whether or not the Boeing 737 MAX is safe to fly. Plus TPG‘s full coverage of the Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crash and aftermath:
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees