The Boeing 737 MAX is Back in Business

For Boeing, COVID-19 has made an already difficult situation even worse. The 737 Max had its issues prior to the pandemic. The plane has been grounded since March 2019 after a pair of fatal crashes.

It took a couple years—631 days to be exact—but the Boeing 737 Max jet is back to carrying passengers again. Brazilian airline Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes [$GOL] flew passengers on a Boeing [$BA] 737 Max on Thursday, December 3rd. The flight wasn’t for paying customers. Instead, CEO Paulo Kakinoff, VP of operations Celso Ferrer, and board member Joaquim Constantino flew with their families.

Other airlines have similar flights planned to help build back public confidence in i’ll-famed jet. Gol is Brazil’s largest air carrier and, pre-pandy, conducted more than 700 daily flights to 60 destinations. The company operates an all-Boeing fleet and has about 120 Max jets on order.

At one point in 2020, Boeing shares were down nearly 75% year to date, and are still down 45% for the year.

The news didn’t seem to budge either stock this week. Boeing shares were down 2.2% in Friday trading, while Gol stock slipped 1.5%. The S&P 500 [$SPY] and the Dow [$DJX] are both up about 0.6%

The 737 Max is one of the issues dominating Boeing and its airline customers, but it isn’t the only one. The pandy also hasn’t been kind to either stock. Gol stock is down about 42% year to date. Boeing shares are down 28% year to date and about 45% since the second fatal Max crash which occurred on March 10, 2019 and involved an Ethiopian Airlines flight.

The 737 Max coming back is good news for both stocks, and I reckon the vaccine efficacy headlines are helping boost confidence. Boeing shares are up 30% since Nov. 6 when Pfizer [$PFE] announced its vaccine was effective and could be ready to distribute in December. Gol shares have gained 34% over the same span.

At its launch, the 737 Max was supposed to be one of the best-selling airframes of all time, but the plane’s issues and the broader market concerns have delayed those hopes.

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