SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 29: Members of the ground crew check out a Boeing 737 MAX 8 airliner after it landed at Boeing Field to complete its first flight on January 29, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The 737 MAX is the newest generation of Boeing
SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 29: Members of the ground crew check out a Boeing 737 MAX 8 airliner after it landed at Boeing Field to complete its first flight on January 29, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The 737 MAX is the newest generation of Boeing's most popular airliner featuring more fuel efficient engines and redesigned wings. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images North America
Now playing
02:43
Boeing stands by plane as major airlines ground aircraft
Passengers look out at American Airlines flight 718, a Boeing 737 Max, parked at its gate at Miami International Airport as people load for the flight to New York on December 29, 2020 in Miami, Florida. The Boeing 737 Max flew its first commercial flight since the aircraft was allowed to return to service nearly two years after being grounded worldwide following a pair of separate crashes. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Passengers look out at American Airlines flight 718, a Boeing 737 Max, parked at its gate at Miami International Airport as people load for the flight to New York on December 29, 2020 in Miami, Florida. The Boeing 737 Max flew its first commercial flight since the aircraft was allowed to return to service nearly two years after being grounded worldwide following a pair of separate crashes. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Now playing
03:15
Airlines & TSA boost security ahead of Inauguration
PHOTO: Courtesy AirlingRatings.com
Now playing
04:17
Etihad CEO: Targeting a complete turnaround by 2023
MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 29: American Airlines flight 718, a Boeing 737 Max, takes off from Miami International Airport to New York on December 29, 2020 in Miami, Florida. The Boeing 737 Max flew its first commercial flight since the aircraft was allowed to return to service nearly two years after being grounded worldwide following a pair of separate crashes. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 29: American Airlines flight 718, a Boeing 737 Max, takes off from Miami International Airport to New York on December 29, 2020 in Miami, Florida. The Boeing 737 Max flew its first commercial flight since the aircraft was allowed to return to service nearly two years after being grounded worldwide following a pair of separate crashes. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Now playing
02:38
Boeing's 737 Max returns to commercial service
Now playing
01:06
See Alaska Airlines' Covid-19 'Safety Dance'
American Airlines is now preparing to re-enter its fleet of 24 Boeing 737 MAX airplanes into service.
American Airlines is now preparing to re-enter its fleet of 24 Boeing 737 MAX airplanes into service.
PHOTO: Chris Sloan
Now playing
02:17
The Boeing 737 MAX is back in the air after fatal crashes
PHOTO: WHDH
Now playing
02:46
Millions travel for Thanksgiving despite Covid-19 surge
Now playing
04:40
Delta CEO: Rapid testing is critical to avoid quarantines
Now playing
01:53
Airline furloughs loom for thousands of workers
A United Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft waits to take off at Beijing airport on July 25, 2018. - Beijing hailed "positive steps" as major US airlines and Hong Kong
A United Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft waits to take off at Beijing airport on July 25, 2018. - Beijing hailed "positive steps" as major US airlines and Hong Kong's flag carrier moved to comply on July 25 with its demand to list Taiwan as part of China, sparking anger on the island. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP) (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
03:09
United Airlines Chair: What the airline industry is facing is dire
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 12: Passengers practice social distancing as they prepare to board a United Airlines flight to Los Angeles at San Francisco International Airport on April 12, 2020 in San Francisco, California. San Francisco International Airport has a seen a huge decline in daily flights since the coronavirus shelter in place. United Airlines, the airport
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 12: Passengers practice social distancing as they prepare to board a United Airlines flight to Los Angeles at San Francisco International Airport on April 12, 2020 in San Francisco, California. San Francisco International Airport has a seen a huge decline in daily flights since the coronavirus shelter in place. United Airlines, the airport's largest carrier with the most daily flights with 290 flights per day before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, has reduced their daily flights to 50 per day. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Now playing
01:16
United, American and Delta drop change fees
Decommissioned and suspended American Airlines commercial aircrafts are seen stored in Pinal Airpark on May 16, 2020 in Marana, Arizona.  Pinal Airpark is the largest commercial aircraft storage facility in the world, currently holding increased numbers of aircraft in response to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.   (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Decommissioned and suspended American Airlines commercial aircrafts are seen stored in Pinal Airpark on May 16, 2020 in Marana, Arizona. Pinal Airpark is the largest commercial aircraft storage facility in the world, currently holding increased numbers of aircraft in response to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Now playing
00:57
American Airlines suspends service to 15 cities
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:35
Southwest Airlines CEO: We still don't have enough testing
PHOTO: Delta
Now playing
03:52
Delta CEO: Our goal is to restore confidence in air travel
A aircraft maintenance technician works on the engine of an Airbus airplane of the airline company Air France in a maintenance facility at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport, in Roissy, north of Paris, on June 27, 2019. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A aircraft maintenance technician works on the engine of an Airbus airplane of the airline company Air France in a maintenance facility at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport, in Roissy, north of Paris, on June 27, 2019. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
02:07
Airbus to cut 15,000 jobs
A Southwest Airlines flight takes off as United Airlines planes sit parked on a runway at Denver International Airport as the coronavirus pandemic slows air travel on April 22, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. Compared to the same time last year, Denver International Airport is operating 1,000 fewer flights daily. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
A Southwest Airlines flight takes off as United Airlines planes sit parked on a runway at Denver International Airport as the coronavirus pandemic slows air travel on April 22, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. Compared to the same time last year, Denver International Airport is operating 1,000 fewer flights daily. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images
Now playing
03:52
Why budget airlines could see big changes post pandemic
EVERETT, WA - JANUARY 25: A Boeing 777X airliner lifts off for its first flight at Paine Field on January 25, 2020 in Everett, Washington. The plane is the latest iteration of its popular wide body model, which feature more fuel efficient engines than its predecessor and composite wings. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
EVERETT, WA - JANUARY 25: A Boeing 777X airliner lifts off for its first flight at Paine Field on January 25, 2020 in Everett, Washington. The plane is the latest iteration of its popular wide body model, which feature more fuel efficient engines than its predecessor and composite wings. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Now playing
02:01
Here's how Boeing and Airbus became a duopoly
(CNN Business) —  

The decision to ground all Boeing 737 Max planes could cost the company billions of dollars.

The company said Wednesday it recommended the FAA issue a temporary operations suspension of all 737 Max planes. Boeing had for days resisted a suspension, even as aviation authorities around the world grounded their 737 Max aircraft following the second deadly crash of a 737 Max 8 plane in less than five months.

The cost of grounding all 737 Max planes could be between $1 billion and $5 billion, according to estimates from Wall Street firms Melius Research and Jefferies.

Both those estimates were based on a three-month grounding. Boeing can afford that cost: It posted record revenue of $101 billion last year, and a $10.6 billion profit. It had forecast even stronger results this year.

Boeing has grounded an entire fleet of planes before. In 2013, Boeing told airlines not to fly their 787 Dreamliners because the planes’ batteries were catching fire.

Boeing didn’t stop building the 787 planes while it worked to find a solution to the problem. At that time, only 50 Dreamliners were in service, so the cost to Boeing was “minimal,” the company said.

Boeing’s statement Wednesday did not say what the grounding would mean for its current production plans, but it is likely that it will continue to build planes as scheduled. The costs of grounding all of its 737 MAX jets and halting delivery until April might also end up being minimal to a company the size of Boeing, particularly if it doesn’t lose any long-term sales.

One of the bigger costs to Boeing will likely be compensating the airlines that own the 370 grounded planes. Earlier Wednesday the CEO of Norwegian Airlines said that it would be sending a bill to Boeing for the revenues it lost from having 18 of the 737 Max planes it owns grounded.

Boeing (BA) maintains its planes are safe to fly, yet Boeing (BA)’s stock has fallen 12% this week. Boeing (BA) CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement Wednesday that the company took the “proactive step” to ground the 737 Max planes “out of an abundance of caution.”

“Safety is a core value at Boeing for as long as we have been building airplanes; and it always will be,” Muilenburg said. “There is no greater priority for our company and our industry. We are doing everything we can to understand the cause of the accidents in partnership with the investigators, deploy safety enhancements and help ensure this does not happen again.”

The FAA and Boeing both say a software upgrade will give pilots greater control over plane in case problems emerge with the planes’ safety systems. That fix is due in April.

The 737 Max family of planes is new enough that it doesn’t make up a significant portion of airlines’ fleets. Southwest has 34 of the 737 Max 8, out of 750 jets it operates. American Airlines has 24 of the planes flying 85 flights daily. United has only nine 737 Max 9 jets. In each case the aircraft make up less than 3% of their capacity.

And since a round of bankruptcies and consolidation earlier in the century left the US industry with only four major carriers controlling about 80% of air traffic, the industry has been enjoying a period of unprecedented and sustained profitability. It has also been a period of great safety. US passenger airlines have had only one passenger die as a result of an accident in the last decade. There have been fatal crashes of cargo planes.

Sunday’s fatal crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet killed all on board. The cause of Sunday’s crash is still under investigation. It follows an October crash in which pilots on a Lion Air flight fought an automatic safety system for control of the plane. That crash killed everyone on board.

Boeing faced widespread criticism from lawmakers and aviation experts for its hesitation to ground the 737 Max fleet earlier this week.

“The best time to have [ordered a grounding] was immediately following the Ethiopian Airlines crash,” said Nick Wyatt, analyst with GlobalData, on Tuesday. “I don’t think they can win either way here.”