What happened

Shares of Boeing (NYSE:BA) climbed 5% on Wednesday afternoon on a fresh batch of positive news concerning its long-troubled 737 MAX.

So what

It's been a tough year for Boeing, with the stock weighed down by issues with the 737 MAX and a fall in travel demand due to the pandemic.

But Boeing's been on the upswing of late, with the 737 MAX cleared to return to service after 20 months on the ground and the airlines getting a boost thanks to progress in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

A Boeing 737 MAX in flight.

Image source: Boeing.

On Wednesday, Boeing and American Airlines Group kicked off a campaign to repair public perception of the 737 MAX by hosting a flight for reporters. A group of reporters flew from Dallas to Tulsa on an American 737 MAX, the first time anyone other than regulators and industry personnel have flown on the plane since March 2019.

Boeing has more than 400 planes assembled but not yet delivered that it must find homes for in the months to come, and the aerospace giant is reportedly making progress in securing homes for some of its production. European discounter Ryanair is reportedly near an order for 75 additional 737 MAX planes.

Now what

The PR campaign for the plane is a nice touch, but the Ryanair order would be the needle-mover for Boeing. The company burned through more than $15 billion in the first nine months of 2020 in part due to a lack of deliveries, and with airlines hit hard by the pandemic it could be years before many large carriers like American are in expansion mode again.

Boeing is going to need a lot more than one order from Ryanair to get healthy again, but a vote of confidence from a major European customer would be a firm step in the right direction. Investors on Wednesday are applauding that progress.