Boeing shares tumble to 1-year low as 737 Max return delayed til summer

'Returning the Max safely to service is our No. 1 priority'

Boeing shares tumbled to their lowest level in more than a year after the planemaker confirmed the top-selling 737 Max won’t return to the skies before June or July.

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Trading was halted before the announcement, which followed an unconfirmed news report The stock’s slide, to its lowest since December 2018, pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average to session lows.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
BABOEING COMPANY330.38-5.90-1.75%

The planemaker doesn’t expect the 737 Max will return until mid-summer based on its experience with the certification process so far, according to a statement. Tuesday's developments follow a separate report Monday that Boeing was seeking more than $10 billion of loans to help it deal with the mounting costs related to the aircraft.

The three U.S. carriers that flew the plane --  American Airlines, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines -- have already pulled it from their schedules until the summer. The jetliner was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two crashes that killed 346 people, and CEO Dennis Muilenburg stepped down late last year amid increasing scrutiny of the aircraft's troubles.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
AALAMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC.27.82-0.69-2.42%
UALUNITED AIRLINES HLDG.78.01-1.90-2.38%
LUVSOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.56.53-0.41-0.72%

The aircraft's delayed return to service has also hurt suppliers such as Spirit Aerosystems, which announced earlier this month it would lay off 20 percent of the workforce at its Wichita, Kansas, plant, home to 13,000 of the company's 18,000 employees. Spirit shares also plunged following the report.

General Electric announced layoffs due to the aircraft's grounding as well.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
SPRSPIRIT AEROSYSTEMS HOLDINGS INC65.39+0.36+0.55%
GEGENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY12.25-0.28-2.23%

The final decision on timing will be up to regulators who are evaluating a patch to anti-stall software linked to the crashes before certifying it's safe for commercial flights.

"Returning the Max safely to service is our No. 1 priority, and we are confident that will happen," Boeing said in the statement. "We acknowledge and regret the continued difficulties that the grounding of the 737 Max has presented to our customers, our regulators, our suppliers and the flying public."

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Muilenburg's successor, David Calhoun, says he's focused on resolving the aircraft's issues and said regaining public trust is a priority. Surveys taken after the crashes have shown fliers would be more reluctant to travel on the plane, the latest iteration of an aircraft introduced in the late 1960s.

"We have work to do to uphold our values and to build on our strengths," he said in a memo to employees last week. "I see greatness in this company, but I also see opportunities to be better. Much better.”