China said on Thursday that it granted Boeing (NYSE: BA) permission last month to begin deliveries of its 737 MAX 8 to domestic clients, lifting an import ban on the US planemaker’s most lucrative planes imposed shortly after its first delivery in 2019.

Boeing handed its first 737 MAX to a Chinese carrier in March 2019, a 737 MAX 8 registered to China Southern Airlines that is now parked in Hawaii on its way back from the United States.

China’s approval is a boost for the planemaker, which has been hit by the fallout from a mid-air blowout of a cabin panel on a 737 MAX 9 jet operated by Alaska Airlines, including the US Federal Aviation Administration’s ban on Boeing expanding production of its best-selling narrowbody planes.

The issue forced the aviation regulator to stop 171 737 MAX 9 planes and disrupt hundreds of flights by US carriers. No Chinese carriers fly MAX 9 planes.

On Dec. 8, 2023, the Chinese department in charge completed the design approval of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 following China’s civil aviation regulations, and the aircraft is ready for delivery,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said when asked about the China Southern Airlines delivery.

Boeing did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

China is one of the world’s fastest-growing aerospace markets, with Boeing projecting that it would account for 20% of global aircraft demand by 2042.

China was the first to stop MAX planes following two incidents in 2018 and 2019, which killed roughly 350 people.

While safety restrictions were relaxed, additional supplies were put on hold as tensions between Washington and Beijing over topics ranging from technology to national security escalated.

Analysts believe it is too early to predict what this would entail for the world’s two largest countries’ troubled trade ties.

China’s commercial airline purchases always have a political angle, so any progress Boeing makes in China to some degree is a reflection of bilateral relations, but China cannot hold Boeing hostage to Washington politics, or else Beijing would become a hostage to Toulouse (Airbus),” said Drew Thompson, visiting senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

The MAX handover follows Boeing’s first straight delivery of a 787 Dreamliner to a Chinese client in December 2019.

It is certainly encouraging that this aircraft is on its way to China, but it remains to be seen how quickly Chinese carriers accept 737s,” said Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor of industry newspaper FlightGlobal.

Beijing’s decision rationale for acquiring Boeing aircraft is murky. While taking 737s may be seen as an attempt to please Washington, it is also possible that the airlines have pushed for new aircraft,” he noted.

China Southern Airlines’ 737 MAX 8 departed Seattle Boeing Field in Washington state at 11:55 a.m. Pacific Time (1955 UTC) on Wednesday and arrived in Honolulu over seven hours later, according to FlightRadar 24 data.

China Southern and the Civil Aviation Administration of China did not return calls for comment.