US approval for 737 MAX return nears as challenges remain for Boeing

The European Union imposed tariffs on up to $4 billion of annual US imports, including Boeing jets. (Reuters)
Updated 16 November 2020

US approval for 737 MAX return nears as challenges remain for Boeing

  • Largest US airplane maker faces headwinds from the coronavirus and new European tariffs

WASHINGTON: After a standoff with global regulators, management turmoil and a massive safety review, Boeing Co. is set to win US approval on Wednesday to resume flights of its grounded 737 MAX.
But the largest US airplane maker faces headwinds from the coronavirus and new European tariffs as it scrambles to return the best-selling jet to service.
Reuters first reported on Nov. 9 that the FAA was in the final stages of reviewing proposed MAX changes and was set to lift its grounding order as early as Wednesday.
The FAA decision comes as other global regulators also move closer to decisions on allowing the plane to resume flights.
A group of relatives of MAX crash victims and some US House Democrats have urged the FAA to disclose key supporting data in its examination of the plane.
The FAA is requiring new training to deal with a key safety system called MCAS tied to the two fatal crashes that killed 346 people and led to the plane’s grounding in March 2019. It is also requiring new safeguards to MCAS and other software changes.
Last month, FAA Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell, who made the US decision to ground the plane, said he had “absolutely no doubt in my mind that it will be as safe as, or safer than, any airplane in service today.”
In December, Boeing’s board forced out prior chief executive Dennis Muilenburg after he received a rebuke from FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. At the time, the FAA said Boeing was pursuing an unrealistic schedule for the return to service.
On Oct. 28, Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun told CNBC the MAX review was nearing the finish line. “I am very proud of that airplane,” Calhoun said. “It is a remarkable machine and as safe as anything in the air.”
Last week, in a long-running transatlantic subsidy spat, the European Union imposed tariffs on up to $4 billion of annual US imports, including Boeing jets.
Leasing companies warned the tariffs would hamper the reintegration of the MAX in Europe, a key market. Ireland’s Ryanair said it would expect Boeing to absorb the cost of the tariffs, which mirror US duties on imports of Airbus jets and other European goods.
Following the FAA green light, airlines must complete software updates and fresh pilot training, a process that will take at least 30 days, before planes can return to the skies.
The FAA said it would not delegate its authority to issue airworthiness certificates and export certificates for the 450 737 MAX airplanes built since the grounding, and plans in-person, individual inspections.
Those could take a year or more to complete.
Southwest Airlines, the world’s largest MAX operator, has said it would take several months to comply with the FAA requirements and it does not plan to schedule flights on the aircraft until the second quarter of 2021.


Saudi Telecom Company announces CEO resignation, share buyback

Updated 32 min 51 sec ago

Saudi Telecom Company announces CEO resignation, share buyback

  • The resignation, which will be effective March 28, 2021

Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) said its board of directors accepted the resignation of chief executive officer Nasser Al-Nasser on Nov. 28, 2020, according to a bourse statement.

The resignation, which will be effective March 28, 2021, was submitted for personal reasons.

The board also delegated the nomination and remuneration committee to identify a new CEO and submit the list of candidates to the board, while taking STC’s succession plan into consideration.

Any new development will be announced in due course, the firm said.

STC completed the buyback of its shares allocated to the employees’ stock incentive plan on Nov. 26, 2020, the firm said in a statement to Tadawul.

A total of 2.98 million shares, with an approximate value of SAR 300 million (SAR 100.58 per share) were bought back in one tranche, and no additional shares will be purchased during the specified purchase period, it added.

On April 20, 2020, STC’s shareholders approved buying back 5.5 million shares at SAR 300 million ($80 million). Shareholders had also authorized the board to buy back the shares within eight months of the extraordinary general assembly date.

The shares purchased for employees’ stock incentive plan will not be entitled to any dividends during the period the company holds them, STC said in its statement on Nov. 29, 2020.

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