Hainan Airlines has returned its Boeing 737 Max aircraft to commercial service, becoming the second Chinese carrier to do so within a month.

According to flight tracking data, the airline operated a 737 Max 8 (B-207H, MSN60706) on 1 February, flying from its Haikou hub to Kunming.

Hainan Airlines 737 Max B-1100

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hainan Airlines has 11 Boeing 737 Max 8s in its fleet.

Flight HU7089 took off from Haikou around 09:20 local time, flying for more than 1h 40min before landing at Kunming. The aircraft would later return to Haikou as flight HU7090.

On 2 February, flight tracking data shows the aircraft flying from Haikou to Fuzhou in the morning.

Hainan appears to have only returned a sole 737 Max to service. Cirium fleets data shows the airline has 11 737 Max 8s in its fleet, with another on order.

B-207H was delivered to Hainan Airlines in 2018 and is managed by lessor AerCap.

Hainan’s move to return the 737 Max to commercial flying follows that of compatriot China Southern Airlines, which on 13 January became the first Chinese carrier to return the type to service after an operational hiatus of nearly four years.

China Southern deployed the type on two domestic routes – Zhengzhou and Wuhan – from its Guangzhou hub. 

The 737 Max was grounded globally in 2019 following two fatal crashes. While Chinese regulators lifted an operational ban of the type in 2022, Chinese carriers have been less than eager to return the type to service, even excluding 737 Max deliveries from near-term fleet forecasts.

Boeing in October 2022 flagged uncertainty about the ourtlook for the popular narrowbody in the key Chinese market. It has also not notched any significant orders for the 737 Max from China carriers in recent year, while European rival Airbus scored a headline order in July from the ‘Big Three’ for close to 300 narrowbodies.