Boeing is looking to reduce the financial impact of the 737 Max's grounding by negotiating with customers, including local client flydubai, as the timeline for re-entry into service is still set to be determined by the US aviation regulator and its global peers.
The US plane maker's top priority is returning the jet safely to commercial service, continuing to make progress on changes to the aircraft and lining up targets for type-certification in December, Stan Deal, president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told reporters in Dubai on Saturday.
"The FAA and regulators around the world will pace the schedule," Mr Deal said. "We do our part to mitigate the impact that has happened to flydubai and we’re in the midst of those discussions and then ensuring that we’re working together as time approaches to return those aeroplanes to service."
Speaking on the eve of the Dubai Airshow, Mr Deal said Boeing is "deeply humbled" by the two fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia within the span of five months, killing 346 people and leading to an eight-month grounding of the narrowbody jet. Flydubai, the second-biggest Max customer outside the US, has said its fleet shrank to 2014-levels after the grounding and is in talks with Airbus for a potential order of the competing A320Neo model.
Mr Deal said it was "too early to speculate" on whether the Max crisis will have any adverse effect on regulatory procedures for certifying its new 777X wide-body.
"We're focused with regulatory agencies on the Max and working through that safe return … it's too early to speculate if there's any further follow-on associated with how the 777X gets certified,” he said.
Boeing expects the 777X flight test in early 2020 with first delivery in early 2021, "slightly later" than originally planned, Mr Deal said.
The company is in discussions with airlines who have committed to the plane on these delays, including the launch customer Emirates, Mr Deal said.
"It's never easy when you delay beyond the initial commitment and we're working through that with Emirates now ... and how we deal with the fact that it caused them to replan, which is never a good thing," he said. "I'm going to have discussions at the show."
Emirates president Tim Clark has repeatedly expressed his growing frustration with plane manufacturers and engine makers over delayed deliveries, warning he will refuse to take delivery of jets that don't meet reliability expectations.
The airline could potentially reshuffle the number of 777X wide-bodies it has on order amid plane delays and a review of its fleet requirements.
The plane maker is also in talks with Emirates regarding the status of its preliminary order for 40 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which it made during the Dubai Airshow in 2017, Mr Deal said.