2020 was a year to forget for Boeing, but it ended well for the world’s largest aerospace company with its troubled best-selling jet receiving a vote of confidence from carriers.
Boeing reported Tuesday that it delivered 39 jets to customers in December, allowing it to close a disappointing year in the best manner possible – with its best month. In all, Boeing delivered 157 aircraft in 2020, its lowest since 1977.
The December spike in sales follows the ungrounding of the 737 Max in the U.S. and Brazil after nearly 20 months, with Europe set to allow the aircraft to fly again in its skies.
Significantly, the only passenger aircraft that the company delivered in December were Max 737s. Boeing delivered 27 jet of the type in the last month of the year – ten to American Airlines, eight to United, one to Panamian carrier Copa, and the rest to leasing companies. The deliveries mark the first time an airline has taken the air plane since it was grounded in March 2019. The company also delivered nine freighters and three military versions of commercial planes.
Boeing had 90 new orders in December, including 75 more 737 Max jets for Ryanair, but the company had 107 earlier orders canceled during the month. The company saw orders for 184 jets in 2020, but the gains were more than offset by 655 canceled orders. The company ends the year with an order backlog of 4,223 planes.
The company has been reeling from the twin effects of the 737 Max being grounded, after two deadly crashes that killed 346 people, and the sharp global dip in air travel because of COVID-19. Boeing had had to slash production rates and has laid off thousands of employees with airlines either cancelling or deferring orders.
“As we continue navigating through the pandemic, we’re working closely with our global customers and monitoring the slow international traffic recovery to align supply with market demand,” said Boeing CFO Greg Smith. “In 2021, we’ll continue taking the right actions to enhance our safety culture, preserve liquidity and transform our business for the future.”
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