Boeing Co. reported its total commercial aircraft deliveries during 2020 totaled 157, a -59% drop from 2019 and the worst annual delivery total for Boeing since 1973, when it delivered 156 aircraft. The total reflects not only the Covid-19 pandemic’s influence on commercial aircraft demand, but also the lingering effect of the 737 MAX idling. For contrast, in 2019, prior to the start of the pandemic, Boeing delivered 380 aircraft; but in 2018, before the 737 MAX program was grounded, the OEM delivered 806 aircraft.
In detail, the 2020 deliveries for Boeing commercial jets included 43 of the 737 series; five 747s; 30 767s; 26 777s; and 53 787 Dreamliners.
Also for 2020, Boeing’s new orders totaled 184 aircraft, and its order backlog slipped by 1,026 to 3,282 aircraft.
Rival Airbus last week reported it delivered a total of 566 aircraft during 2020, booked 268 new orders for the year, and lowered its order backlog downward to 7,184 aircraft.)
"Through the global pandemic, we took meaningful steps to adapt to our new market, transform our business and deliver for our commercial, defense, space and services customers in 2020," stated Greg Smith, EVP of Enterprise Operations and CFO.
The Federal Aviation Administration lifted its grounding order on the 737 MAX in late November and Boeing was able to deliver 27 of the once-bestselling passenger jets during December. Boeing also began to record new orders for the 737 MAX during Q4 2020, including one from Ryanair for 75 more, though Boeing has lost 641 orders it once had booked for the twin-engine aircraft.
In all, airlines and air leasing firms canceled orders for 1,026 Boeing aircraft, evidence of the shrinking outlook for the commercial aviation sector.
Another problem still developing for Boeing concerns the 787 Dreamliner wide-body series. Boeing has begun an extensive inspection of new Dreamliners after the discovery of structural defects in some previously delivered jets. Boeing has also confirmed it will cut 787 production from six to five/month, in line with falling demand.
Smith continued: "The resumption of 737 MAX deliveries in December was a key milestone as we strengthen safety and quality across our enterprise. We also continued comprehensive inspections of our 787 airplanes to ensure they meet our highest quality standards prior to delivery. While limiting our 787 deliveries for the quarter, these comprehensive inspections represent our focus on safety, quality, and transparency, and we're confident that we're taking the right steps for our customers and for the long-term health of the 787 program."