Can China pass on Boeing airplanes? A deeper look

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By Vincent Valery


Aug.  8, 2022, © Leeham News: The FAA lifted the Boeing 737 MAX grounding more than 18 months ago. However, Chinese airlines still have not returned their 737 MAX fleets to passenger service.

Air China 777-300ER

Chinese airlines have also not taken delivery of any 737 MAX since March 2019. Separately, a Boeing 777-300ER for China Southern Airlines has now been pending delivery for more than two years. While Airbus announced a large A320neo order from Chinese airlines on July 1, no similar order materialized for the 737 MAX at the Farnborough Air Show.

The above raises the question of whether China intends to place new commercial aircraft orders with Boeing. Last year, LNA concluded that China could not rely exclusively on Airbus and COMAC to meet its aircraft requirements.

This article revisits whether Chinese airlines can do without Boeing for single-aisle and twin-aisle aircraft. Airbus announced its intention to increase A320 family production to 75 per month by 2025. The analysis incorporates replacement needs but also looks at different growth assumptions to see whether output by non-Boeing OEMs can accommodate the fleet requirements of the Chinese market.

  • Current China passenger fleet profile;
  • Fleet replacement and growth rate assumptions;
  • Estimating maximum possible production rates for China without Boeing;
  • China needs Boeing airplanes in most scenarios.

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