Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 11 July 2020

Boeing loses crown of world's biggest plane maker as 737 Max crisis bites

The Chicago-plane maker delivered only 380 jets in 2019, much lower than the total 863 aircraft delivered by its competitor Airbus

Boeing delivered less than 400 aircraft in 2019, losing the top spot to its rival. Jim Anderson / EPA
Boeing delivered less than 400 aircraft in 2019, losing the top spot to its rival. Jim Anderson / EPA

Boeing lost the title of the world’s biggest plane manufacturer to its rival Airbus after its aircraft deliveries slumped to a record 11-year-low.

The grounding of its best-selling 737 Max jet continues to haunt the Chicago-based company that delivered only 380 jets in 2019, which is less than half of the total 863 aircraft delivered by its rival, based in Toulouse, Boeing said.

The aircraft manufacturer, which factors in cancellations and conversion to earlier orders in its calculation, said it received only 54 new orders in the 2019 financial year – its lowest in decades.

Last year, Boeing received 893 new orders, data posted on its website showed. The airplane manufacturer said customers cancelled an order for three 787-9 aircraft in December 2019 and another for a 787-8 jet.

Airbus this month, said it received a net of 768 orders in 2019 after cancellations.

Airbus’s ascent to the top spot was anticipated after Boeing endured a tough year, following the grounding of its best-selling narrow-body 737 Max jet, which was involved in two fatal crashes that killed 346 people.

The incidents – which occurred just months apart – led to multiple regulatory and criminal investigations that eventually pulled the 737 Max from operation. The crashes dented passengers’ confidence while resulting in heavy monetary loss for Boeing’s customers.

Boeing recently removed its chief executive Dennis Muilenburg, replacing him with chairman David Calhoun, in the hope of regaining trust.

However, there is no visibility on when the Max jets will take to the skies again after new safety and regulatory concerns surfaced.

The 10-month grounding of the 737 Max hurt Boeing’s deliveries as it had to shut down production of the jet at the beginning of this month. The order backlog for its long and short-distance commercial jets at the end of December stood at 5,400.

Aircraft manufacturers receive most of their revenue when jets are delivered – minus accumulated progress payments – making final delivery crucial for their finances. Reuters citing analysts estimates that Boeing has been losing around $1 billion (Dh3.67bn) a month on the back of the grounding. It reported an almost $3bn negative free cash flow in the third quarter. Its fourth-quarter figures are due on January 29.

Updated: January 15, 2020 02:41 PM

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