Throughout the grounding of the 737 MAX, Boeing has continued to build new airplanes and there are now approximately 400 airplanes in storage.
“We have previously stated that we would continually evaluate our production plans should the MAX grounding continue longer than we expected,” Boeing said in a statement. “As a result of this ongoing evaluation, we have decided to prioritize the delivery of stored aircraft and temporarily suspend production on the 737 program beginning next month.”
The decision will have ripple effects throughout Boeing’s supply chain, and make further complications for airlines which have lost hundreds of millions of dollars and had to cancel thousands of flights while the aircraft are grounded.
Boeing, however, has said there will be no layoffs at its Renton, Wash., plant where the 737 Max is built.
“During this time, it is our plan that affected employees will continue 737-related work, or be temporarily assigned to other teams in Puget Sound,” said Boeing. “As we have throughout the 737 MAX grounding, we will keep our customers, employees, and supply chain top of mind as we continue to assess appropriate actions.”
The aircraft have been grounded since mid-March following two fatal crashes. On Oct. 29, 2018, A Lion Air flight crashed moments after takeoff in Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board. On March 10, 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board.
At this point, there is no way of knowing how long the production halt with last as it is unknown when regulators will clear the plane to fly again.
“We know that the process of approving the 737 Max’s return to service, and of determining appropriate training requirements, must be extraordinarily thorough and robust, to ensure that our regulators, customers, and the flying public have confidence in the 737 Max updates,” Boeing said in a statement. “The FAA and global regulatory authorities determine the timeline for certification and return to service. We remain fully committed to supporting this process. It is our duty to ensure that every requirement is fulfilled, and every question from our regulators answered.”