China Southern has let it be known its has in effect, “suspended” its order for another 64 737MAX and has no plans to take delivery of them. It already has 28 aircraft on the ground awaiting software updates once the aircraft is re-certified.
The move may have some political backing as it comes just as the Trump administration puts another $300 billion in tariffs on goods arriving in the US. (The Chinese don’t pay the tariff, American consumers do as higher retail prices, supposedly reducing sales of the goods by pricing them too high).
The trade war with the US is driving more Chinese airlines into the arms of Airbus, who also assemble the aircraft in China.
China Southern has also said its trying to buy a third slot pair at Heathrow, but is said to be unwilling to pay a “record” price.
If it’s isn’t willing to pay plenty of other airlines will, if you can find anyone to give one up: the average slot-pair goes for around £30m. That gives one aircraft a single take off and landing a day.