Air Canada follows WestJet as it removes Boeing 737 Max until June

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX

Southwest has received the most Boeing 737 MAX of any airline in the world

Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun told reporters on Wednesday the USA planemaker expects to resume 737 Max production months before its forecasted mid-year return to service and said it did not plan to suspend or cut its dividend.

The company said regulators will decide when the Max flies again but that it periodically gives airlines and suppliers its best estimate of when that will happen. Now Boeing has officially made public that it doesn't expect the 737 Max to be ungrounded before mid-2020 as regulators perform stricter scrutiny they probably should have done from the very start.

Boeing's best-selling plane has been grounded since March after two fatal crashes killed 346 people in five months.

The MAX statement overshadowed an earlier announcement that the 777X would undertake its first flight on Thursday, progress for a key widebody jet that has itself been delayed for different reasons.

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Toward the tail end of 2019, Boeing had said that it was hoping to resume deliveries shortly.

On Tuesday, a US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) spokesman reiterated that it had set "no time frame" for the certification of the 737 MAX.

The three U.S. carriers that have the Max - American Airlines, Southwest and United Airlines - have all removed the aircraft from their schedules until June.

It will also make it harder for it to resume production later this year should the 737 Max be cleared by then.

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More information will be provided when Boeing releases its quarterly financial statement next week.

In his email to Boeing employees a week ago, new CEO Dave Calhoun said the company would "keep taking steps to maintain our supply chain and workforce expertise so we're ready to restart production".

In its statement, Air Canada said decisions about returning the jet to service would be based on its own safety assessment following "approvals by the FAA and Transport Canada".

On Jan. 22, Air Canada chimed in, revealing it has removed its fleet of 24 aircraft from the operating schedule until June 30.

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CNBC reported the company already has commitments for $6 billion or more from banks and is in discussions with other lenders to increase the amount to $10 billion.

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