SEATTLE, WASHINGTON — Boeing's 737 MAX is gradually reemerging in China, as more aircraft return to service and the company considers resuming deliveries to Chinese clients.

According to Boeing CFO Brian West, Chinese airlines have recommenced operations with around 30 of the 97 grounded jets.

Speaking at a BofA Securities investor conference on March 22, West revealed that 28 of the jets were back in service, a 20-unit increase compared to the previous month. Amid US-China geopolitical tensions, China had been slow to reintroduce the 737 MAX.

In January, China Southern Airlines became the first Chinese carrier to resume 737 MAX operations, over two years after the US Federal Aviation Administration lifted the grounding. Boeing is now working with Chinese airlines to return approximately 70 still-grounded 737 MAX aircraft to active duty.

Also read: Boeing 737 MAX conducted its first flight with a Chinese operator since March 2019

The company hopes that, once the jets are back in operation, Chinese carriers will obtain approval from China's aviation regulator to accept 737s directly from Boeing. West suggests that growing traffic, fleet planning, and regulatory decisions could lead to resumed deliveries.

Boeing's future production and backlog clearance of undelivered 737 MAX aircraft relies heavily on deliveries to China. The company's market outlook predicts that Chinese airlines will require about 8,500 new aircraft through 2041, including nearly 6,400 narrowbody jets, accounting for 21% of total global demand.

West emphasized that meeting this demand would be a challenge for both legacy airframers, Boeing and Airbus, as it is "bigger than just one can handle."