Boeing (BOE, Washington National) will begin seeking new customers for B737 MAX, originally built for Chinese customers, as the type remains grounded in China, Chief Financial Officer Brian West admitted at a conference organised by Morgan Stanley.

"We have deferred decisions on those planes for a long time. We can't defer that decision forever. So we will begin to remarket some of those airplanes," he told the reporters.

Almost simultaneously, Chief Executive Dave Calhoun echoed West's sentiment.

"We'll do it in a very slow way because I want to protect our customers in China, but you can't wait forever. You've got to move them, and there is a big market," he said on the sidelines of the US Chamber of Commerce Aerospace Summit.

The ch-aviation fleets module shows that China Southern Airlines, Donghai Airlines, Okay Airways, and Ruili Airlines have at least 104 B737 MAX on firm order. However, Chinese carriers typically don't disclose their orders until delivery and are not identified in the manufacturer's order books. Boeing said around half of some 290 B737 MAX already built and awaiting deliveries have been earmarked for customers in China. The manufacturer will be remarketing those aircraft which have already been built to those customers' specifications rather than just the delivery slots.

China and Russia remain the two countries which have yet to recertify the B737 MAX in the wake of the two deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019.

Speculation is mounting in the industry that Beijing's recalcitrance is at least partially caused by the imminent certification of the AC!C19, a Chinese-built narrowbody aircraft which Chinese media have suggested could happen by month-end. First delivery to China Eastern Airlines (MU, Shanghai Hongqiao) is tentatively scheduled for late 2022. State-owned manufacturer COMAC has been designated by the US as a military end-user, which restricts the sale of parts and services to the firm by US entities.