Boeing Commercial Airplanes is enduring a new round of difficulties with its 737 MAX program, as customers take the occasion of the COVID-19 pandemic to cancel future deliveries of the passenger aircraft.
Leasing group China Development Bank Financial Leasing canceled its previously agreed purchase of 29 737 MAX aircraft and deferred deliveries for 20 of the 70 aircraft still on the books.
In addition, GE Capital Aviation Services canceled orders for 69 737 MAX jets, keeping in place orders for 82 others.
Boeing reported a total of 150 cancellations for 737 MAX jets during March. Through March 31, the OEM has reported 4,741 total orders for the 737 MAX (down from 4,912 at the end of 2019) and 387 deliveries.
While both Boeing and Airbus have suspended aircraft production during the past month due to efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, production of the 737 MAX has been suspended since January as Boeing, and deliveries have been halted for more than a year as Boeing sought to correct the cause of two fatal crashes, in October 2018 and March 2019.
Production of the 737 MAX may resume soon, though deliveries continue to be paused, pending re-certification of the jets' airworthiness by the Federal Aviation Administration and other air-safety bodies around the world.
Airbus, too, has had orders canceled by customers, and in its recent financial statement in noted it had been unable to deliver 60 aircraft due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The pandemic has put many business and consumer activities on hold indefinitely, which has been particularly damaging to airlines and aircraft builders. Airlines and aircraft leasing firms seeking to conserve cash have begun to cancel orders for jets placed over the past decade, during a boom in demand prompted by forecasts of rising passenger volume.