UPDATE 1-Boeing in talks for short-term U.S. government assistance - source

David Shepardson

(Adds more details, background on MAX)

WASHINGTON, March 16 (Reuters) - Boeing Co is in talks with senior White House officials and congressional leaders about short-term assistance for itself and the aviation sector, a person familiar with matter told Reuters on Monday.

Boeing, already struggling to win approval from regulators for its 737 MAX to return to service after two fatal crashes in five months, is in talks with the U.S. government to try to win support for manufacturers, suppliers, airlines and airports, the person said. Boeing declined to comment.

U.S. airlines and cargo carriers have said they are seeking at least $58 billion in loans and grants along with additional tax changes, while airports have sought $10 billion.

It is not clear how much Boeing and suppliers are seeking.

Boeing shares fell 24% on Monday to $129.61. The stock has plunged more than 60% over the last month as the coronavirus pandemic slashed travel demand worldwide.

Airlines are slashing flights and it raises questions about whether they will cancel orders for the MAX, which has been grounded for just over a year.

Boeing idled production of the MAX in January and has said it hopes to win approval for return to service in mid-2020.

Reuters reported last week that Boeing would separate key wiring bundles on the MAX after the Federal Aviation Administration rejected its proposal to leave them in place, saying they were potentially dangerous.

Boeing talks for short-term government aid were reported earlier by Bloomberg News. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Sandra Maler and Himani Sarkar)

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