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China Southern cancels planned return of Boeing 737 MAX flights -website

A China Southern Airlines employee wears a surgical mask as a preventive measure in light of the coronavirus outbreak in China, while he attends a customer behind the counter at Benito Juarez international airport in Mexico City

(Reuters) - China Southern Airlines Co Ltd has cancelled plans for two Boeing Co 737 MAX flights on Sunday that would have represented the model's return to passenger flying in China after more than three years, according to the airline's website.

The 737 MAX was grounded in March 2019 following fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia but has returned to service around the world with the exception of China and Russia after modifications to the aircraft and pilot training.

China Southern had scheduled flights from its Guangzhou hub to Zhengzhou and Wuhan, Reuters reported on Thursday.

The airline's website and flight tracking website FlightRadar24 showed the flights had been cancelled. China Southern did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

On Wednesday, Boeing said it had another 138 planes manufactured for Chinese carriers that were in the United States waiting to be delivered, though it had begun remarketing the jets to other carriers given there were no concrete signs that Chinese airlines would accept the planes in the near term.

Earlier this month, a 737 MAX flight by MIAT Mongolian Airlines landed in Guangzhou, marking the first commercial flight by the model in China since 2019.

(Reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney; Editing by Chris Reese)