United sees 737 MAX flying this summer, deliveries before year-end

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FILE PHOTO: A 737 Max aircraft is pictured at the Boeing factory in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

CHICAGO (Reuters) – United Airlines expects Boeing Co’s grounded 737 MAX jets to return to service this summer, with deliveries resuming before the end of the year, an executive said on Wednesday.

“The aircraft scheduled for delivery this year, we would expect to take this year,” Chief Financial Officer Gerald Laderman said on a conference call.

Chicago-based United, which is part of United Continental Holdings Inc, owns 14 MAX aircraft and was due to take delivery this year of another 14 of the jets, which were grounded worldwide in March.

The groundings forced Boeing to freeze deliveries of the MAX, which had been its fastest-selling jetliner until a March 10 crash on Ethiopian Airlines that killed all 157 onboard, just five months after a similar crash on Lion Air that killed all 189 passengers and crew.

The bulk of United’s 2019 MAX orders were scheduled for delivery before the start of the fourth quarter, though Laderman said he could see some of those deliveries slipping into the fourth quarter.

Global regulators must recertify the 737 MAX before it returns