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Alaska Air Grounds Fleet of Boeing 737 MAX-9 Jets

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Incident raises concerns among investors as stock market prepares to open on Monday

Alaska Air made the decision on Friday to ground its entire fleet of 65 Boeing 737 MAX-9 jets following an alarming midair incident. The incident, which took place on Flight 1282 departing from Portland, Oregon on January 5th, involved the loss of a section of fuselage and resulted in the safe return of the aircraft to Portland airport.

Alaska CEO Ben Minicucci expressed his heartfelt concern for the passengers who experienced the disruption, while also acknowledging the quick actions of the pilots and flight attendants. The airline is currently providing assistance to the affected passengers and working on supporting those with upcoming travel plans.

In collaboration with Boeing and the National Transportation Safety Board, Alaska is undertaking thorough inspections of its fleet. These inspections are expected to be completed within a few days, with the cooperation of all involved parties.

Boeing, acknowledging the incident, has expressed their commitment in gathering additional information and providing full support to the ongoing investigation. The cause behind this concerning problem, however, is yet to be determined.

Investors will be closely watching on Monday when the stock market opens for trading, considering their intricate history with the Boeing MAX. The outcome of this incident will undoubtedly have a significant impact on investor sentiment towards Boeing.

The aviation industry awaits further updates on this matter as investigations continue.

The MAX Jet: A Troubled History and a Promising Future

The MAX jet, one of Boeing’s flagship aircrafts, faced a global grounding from March 2019 to November 2024 following two fatal crashes within a span of five months. These tragedies were attributed to the flight control software known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

Both crashes, Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, involved MAX-8 jets. It is worth noting that the incident with Alaska Airlines on Friday involved the slightly shorter “dash-nine” variant of the MAX.

While Boeing does not provide a breakdown of its MAX deliveries by jet variant on its official delivery website, it has successfully delivered nearly 1,400 MAX jets to date and has an additional 4,000 in its delivery backlog.

Despite facing supply-chain challenges and production slowdowns, Boeing managed to deliver 374 MAX jets in 2022 and 343 in 2023 by November. Looking ahead, the aerospace giant aims to significantly increase the production of MAX jets in 2024.

The demand for the MAX, and commercial jets in general, has been robust as air travel steadily recovers from the lows caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While Boeing’s stock has increased by 17% over the past year, its competitor Airbus has experienced a 20% surge. In comparison, the Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 have seen gains of approximately 37% and 21%, respectively.

Despite these positive developments, at $249 per share, Boeing’s stock remains approximately 44% below its record high of around $446 reached in March 2019 before the MAX grounding.

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