ADDIS ABEBA – U.S. aircraft maker Boeing said it will temporarily halt production of its troubled 737 MAX jets in January.
The model is involved in two deadly accidents in Ethiopia and Indonesia this year. Global aviation regulators grounded the aircraft in March after the two accidents which resulted in the deaths of 346 people.
“Throughout the grounding of the 737 MAX, Boeing has continued to build new airplanes and there are now approximately 400 airplanes in storage,” the company said in a statement on Monday.
“We have previously stated that we would continually evaluate our production plans should the MAX grounding continue longer than we expected.
“As a result of this ongoing evaluation, we have decided to prioritize the delivery of stored aircraft and temporarily suspend production on the 737 program beginning next month.”
Boeing said the decision was driven by factors such as “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 prioritize the delivery of stored aircraft.”
The move comes days after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that the recertification process for the 737 MAX jets would extend into next year, suggesting there was still a long way to go, according to reports.
Boeing is one of the largest exporters in the US. The 737 MAX, produced near Seattle, Washington, is the manufacturer’s most important aircraft.