Boeing’s (BA) embattled 737 Max airplane is nearing a return to commercial service in China. Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reports that the airplane could return to China’s skies as soon as this month after being grounded worldwide since 2019. BA shares rose 2.97% to close at $223.90 on January 13.
Boeing is a U.S. company that designs, manufactures, and sells airplanes, rockets, satellites, missiles, and launch systems worldwide. Boeing’s earnings report for Q4 2021 is scheduled for January 26, 2022.
Return of the 737 Max
Hainan Airlines has already carried out an operational readiness flight that took two hours and fifty-two minutes. While the country’s Max operators are yet to provide a specific date for the aircraft’s return, it could be soon, going by the successes of the test flight.
China was the first to impose a ban on 737 Max flights following a series of crashes in 2019. More than 185 regulators worldwide have since lifted bans on the airplane, with Russia among the last holdouts.
Restarting 737 Max flights in China would mark an important milestone for Boeing and its narrow-body workhorse. China is the company’s biggest overseas market and is crucial if the company is to speed up the production of its cash-cow jet.
However, before the Boeing 737 Max returns to commercial flight, carriers will have to retrain pilots and perform maintenance on the aircraft. In addition, tensions between Beijing and Washington over a number of issues, including COVID-19, could affect the re-launch.
Morgan Stanley analyst Kristine Liwag recently reiterated a Buy rating on the stock with a $274 price target, implying 22.38% upside potential to current levels. According to the analyst, Hainan airlines conducting the first domestic 737 Max passenger flight is a positive that could act as a catalyst for the stock.
Consensus among analysts is a Strong Buy based on 13 Buys and 3 Holds. The average Boeing price target of $269.07 implies 20.17% upside potential to current levels.
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