The UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has expressed doubt over Boeing’s estimate that the 737 Max will return to service in mid-2020.
Boeing announced earlier this month that its latest estimate for the return of its grounded jet would be the summer. The Max was banned from flying in March 2019 after two crashes.
But Saif Al Sowaidi, director general of the UAE's aviation regulator, told reporters at a conference that is “not very optimistic” about the Max making its return by mid-2020.
He said: “So far we keep hearing from Boeing that the situation may need some more time. I’m hoping it will be the middle of the year but I’m not expecting [it].”
The plane’s return date has been continually pushed back as complications and issues have cropped up during fixes.
Mr Al Sowaidi said: "It seems this aircraft in particular is facing a lot of challenges. Of course we are suffering from...aircraft here not flying for a long time now."
Local budget carrier Flydubai, one of the largest customers of the Max with well over 200 of the planes on order, has been impacted particularly hard by the grounding.
It is reportedly looking at further leasing options so it can increase capacity during peak travel season in the summer.
According to Mr Al Sowaidi said that the GCAA will carry out its own assessment of the 737 Max after US regulators have completed theirs.