Boeing set to resume 737 Max deliveries, airlines start repairs after FAA approves electrical issue fix


United Airlines planes, including a Boeing 737 MAX 9 model, are pictured at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, March 18, 2019.
Loren Elliott | Reuters

Boeing shares were up close 3% on Thursday morning after U.S. airlines started fixing dozens of 737 Max planes grounded last month due to an electrical problem. The manufacturer expects to resume deliveries in the coming days.

The Federal Aviation Administration approved the repairs for the manufacturing flaw, which grounded more than 100 planes in service last month.

Boeing had paused deliveries of Max aircraft it already produced to address the issue, the company’s latest hinderance to generating much-needed cash. A Boeing spokeswoman told CNBC that deliveries will likely resume “within the week.”

The Max planes had been grounded worldwide for 20 months until last November after two fatal crashes. The electrical issue was unrelated to the issues that prompted the grounding.

Airlines have been eager to get the planes back in service to cater to a rebound in travel demand as more customers are vaccinated against Covid-19 and attractions reopen.

United Airlines has begun repairs on the planes and said it expects its 17 affected Max planes to return to service in “the coming days as we complete our inspection process and ensure those aircraft meet our rigorous safety standards.” The Chicago-based airline has a total of 30 Maxes in its fleet.

American Airlines has also started repairs and expects to return its 18 Max aircraft that must undergo the repairs to be back in service in the next few days. Southwest Airlines said work on each plane will take two to three days and that “it will take about three weeks to complete the compliance work.”

Dallas-based Southwest has 32 Boeing 737 Max 8 planes that were grounded last month out of a total Max fleet of 64.

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