Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun pointed toward future increases in narrow-body jet production and voiced hopes that an upcoming visit to China by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken would lead eventually to "robust" plane orders.
Asked on Bloomberg TV on Tuesday whether plans to open a new 737 MAX assembly line in Boeing's Everett, Washington, plant represented a "down-payment on higher production," Calhoun said "yes," but did not give estimates beyond Boeing's existing target for 50 jets a month from its current 31 MAX production rate.
Blinken is planning a Feb. 5-6 trip to China, the White House has said.
Boeing has 138 737 MAX airplanes in inventory for Chinese carriers but has been unable to deliver them. Calhoun said last week China will "need the MAX" to meet demand.
"So now all of a sudden (demand) is coming back fast and they need airplanes. First and foremost, we've got to get the airplanes they already own back in the air," Calhoun told Bloomberg TV of Chinese carriers 737 MAX planes.
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