China Southern Airlines (CZ, Guangzhou) reactivated two B737-8s for commercial flights on January 13, 2023, becoming the first Chinese carrier to return the type to revenue service since March 2019.

B-1206 (msn 63245) operated as CZ3960/3393 from Guangzhou to Zhengzhou and back, while B-1127 (msn 63268) was deployed as CZ8726/3347 from Guangzhou to Wuhan and return. Both aircraft were active throughout 2022 and in early January 2023 on test flights, Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows.

B-1207 (msn 63248) was subsequently reactivated on January 14.

The reintroduction of the type into revenue service happened without any statement or advance notice from the carrier. China Southern Airlines has not outlined any further steps regarding the reintroduction of its remaining twenty-two B737-8s. The ch-aviation fleets module shows that the airline also has another 44 undelivered aircraft on order from Boeing, although it once expected to take 103 B737-8s. Chinese airlines often keep their orders undisclosed until delivery. In May 2022, amidst the uncertainty related to the ungrounding of the type in China and rising geopolitical tensions between Beijing and Washington, China Southern Airlines removed all 103 from its future fleet plan and has remained tight-lipped about any future deliveries.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) set out its conditions for the ungrounding of the B737 MAX in December 2021 but has not publicly said that any of the carriers have fulfilled them.

No other Chinese operator has resumed or indicated any plans to resume B737 MAX operations. In September 2022, Boeing said it would start remarketing undelivered aircraft built for Chinese carriers due to a lack of prospects for a quick resumption of deliveries to the country.

On top of China Southern Airlines, a further 12 Chinese carriers took deliveries of B737 MAX before the type's grounding in March 2019: