Boeing will suspend production of its best-selling 737 Max from January and work instead on delivering stored Max’s to customers.
The planemaker said on Monday the decision was “least disruptive to maintaining long-term production system and supply-chain health” but it did not say how long production would be halted for.
Boeing’s Max has been grounded since March following two deadly crashes and its return to service has been continually delayed as US regulators refuse to be rushed on certifying the plane. Few airlines expect to begin flying the Max again before March 2020.
The grounding of the Max has so far cost Boeing more than $9 billion.
Boeing said in a statement on Monday that “safely returning the 737 MAX to service is our top priority”.
It said: “This decision is driven by a number of factors, including the extension of certification into 2020, the uncertainty about the timing and conditions of return to service and global training approvals, and the importance of ensuring that we can prioritise the delivery of stored aircraft.”
Boeing has around 400 Max’s in storage and will prioritise their delivery while production is suspended.
“We will continue to assess our progress towards return to service milestones and make determinations about resuming production and deliveries accordingly.
“We know that the process of approving the 737 Max's return to service, and of determining appropriate training requirements, must be extraordinarily thorough and robust to ensure that our regulators, customers and the flying public have confidence in the 737 Max updates.”
Boeing added that it will provide financial information on the production suspension in connection with its fourth quarter earnings release in late January.
Employees impacted by the 737 Max freeze will be temporarily assigned to other teams.