737 Max return did not make up for Boeing poor 2020

Photo: EPA

US airplane producer Boeing enjoyed a rise in sentiment in December but the optimism was not strong enough to make up for entire poor 2020, AP reported. Boeing said it still receives more cancellations than new orders for its 737 Max jet, which was grounded for nearly two years following after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that ended with 346 fatalities.

The global market for new airplanes suffers a severe slowdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has devastated air travel and caused airlines to reconsider aircraft purchases. Despite the optimistic December numbers, Boeing’s full-year numbers for 2020 still declined from 2019.

Boeing finished 2020 with 157 deliveries, including planes handed over to cargo airlines and military customers. That was down from 380 deliveries in 2019. European rival Airbus finished the year with 566 deliveries.

Deliveries are crucial because aircraft makers get much of their cash when planes are delivered. Short on cash during the Max grounding, Boeing has borrowed billions and cut thousands of jobs to reduce costs.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s decision in November to approve changes to a flight-control system on the Max allowed Boeing to resume shipping previously built Maxes to airline customers. Boeing delivered 39 planes in December, including 27 Maxes, of which 10 went to American Airlines and eight to United Airlines.

However, Boeing delivered none of its larger 787 jets as it worked to fix manufacturing problems where sections are the fuselage come together. Boeing reported 90 new orders in December. The bulk, 75, came in a single previously announced order by Irish discount airline Ryanair. The total included cargo carrier DHL’s order for eight Boeing 777 freighters, which was announced Tuesday.

However, Boeing also reported canceled orders for 105 Max planes, all but five by leasing companies that fear it will be difficult to find operators to take the planes. The totals don’t include Alaska Airlines’ decision to buy 23 more Max jets. That deal was announced last month but will be reported with January orders, a Boeing spokesman said. For 2020, orders fell to 184 from 246 in 2019. Airbus reported 383 orders in 2020.

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