The new aircraft market remains depressed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has prompted airlines to reconsider their aircraft purchases.
Boeing Co saw an increase in orders and deliveries of new aircraft in December, but that was not enough to save a bad year for the major aircraft manufacturer.
Chicago-based Boeing still reported more cancellations than new orders for its 737 MAX, which was grounded for 21 months after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people.
The new aircraft market remains depressed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has devastated air travel and prompted airlines to reconsider their aircraft purchases. Despite the December figures, Boeing’s annual figures for 2020 have consistently declined from 2019.
Boeing ended 2020 with 157 deliveries, including planes handed over to freight airlines and military customers. This was down from 380 deliveries in 2019. European rival Airbus ended the year with 566 deliveries.
Deliveries are crucial because aircraft manufacturers receive a large chunk of their money when planes are delivered. Running out of cash during the MAX grounding, Boeing borrowed billions and cut thousands of jobs to cut costs.
The US Federal Aviation Administration’s November decision to approve changes to the MAX’s flight control system allowed Boeing to resume shipping previously-built MAX aircraft to airline customers. Boeing delivered 39 planes in December, including 28 MAX, including 10 to American Airlines and 8 to United Airlines.
Boeing announced 90 new orders in December. The big one, 75, came from a single order previously announced by Irish discount airline Ryanair. The total includes freight carrier DHL’s order for eight Boeing 777s, which was announced on Tuesday.
However, Boeing has also reported canceled orders for 105 MAX jets, all but five from leasing companies who fear it will be difficult to find operators to take the jets.
Totals do not include Alaska Airlines’ decision to purchase 23 additional MAX jets. The deal was announced last month but will be signaled with January orders, a Boeing spokesperson said.
For 2020, orders fell to 184 from 246 in 2019.
Airbus recorded 383 orders in 2020.
Boeing said it had a backlog of nearly 3,300 pending orders for the MAX and around 4,200 for all planes, including freighters.