Boeing jet deliveries plunge in 2020, lagging behind rival Airbus

Chicago-based aerospace company grappled with 787 Dreamliner delivery delays and 737 Max order cancellations

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 13, 2019, Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are seen parked near Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington.    Nearly six months after its 737 MAX jets were grounded, Boeing is now close to applying to recertify the aircraft, according to sources, but the timeframe for flights to resume remains murky. Regulators will have final say on when the planes to return to service, clouding the outlook, in part because of signs of discord between US and international regulators. / AFP / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / David Ryder
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Boeing handed over 59 per cent fewer jets to its customers in 2020, lagging behind rival Airbus, after a 20-month ban on its best-selling 737 Max and manufacturing defects with its 787 Dreamliner.

The Chicago-based planemaker delivered a total of 157 planes in 2020, down from 380 jets in the previous year and from a record 806 jets in 2018, according to Boeing's orders and deliveries data released on Tuesday.

"Through the global pandemic, we took meaningful steps to adapt to our new market, transform our business and deliver for our commercial, defence, space and services customers in 2020," Greg Smith, Boeing's executive vice president of enterprise operations and chief financial officer, said.

The 157 jets Boeing delivered in 2020 are eclipsed by the 566 planes European rival Airbus handed over to customers, with the Toulouse-based company comfortably retaining the top spot in global aircraft manufacturing by a large margin.


Boeing data showed it delivered 27 of the 737 Max narrowbodies in December, after the US Federal Aviation Administration gave approval for the jet to fly again in November.

"The resumption of 737 Max deliveries in December was a key milestone as we strengthen safety and quality across our enterprise," Mr Smith said.

However, the company did not deliver any 787 widebodies in November and December, with the jets undergoing inspections after production flaws were found.

"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 programme," Mr Smith said.

Boeing ended 2020 with 184 gross orders, down by a quarter from 246 in 2019. In December, it won orders for seven of its 737 Maxs from an unidentified customer, 75 Maxs from Ryanair and eight 777 freighters, according to the company website.

Boeing's net orders for all models last year shrank by 1,026 planes, after adjustments for cancellations and for customers converting to other models.

Both Boeing and Airbus have been hurt by the pandemic-driven paralysis in air travel that has led airline customers to ground jets, defer deliveries or cancel orders and slash costs to preserve cash.

"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 across our widebody programmes," Mr Smith said.

"In 2021, we'll continue taking the right actions to enhance our safety culture, preserve liquidity and transform our business for the future."

Boeing will report its 2020 financial results on January 27.