Aircraft manufacturer Boeing is likely to double its 2020 delivery numbers, having delivered 302 in the 11 months to November 30, 2021. That’s nearly double the 157 planes it delivered across all of 2020. With another month of sales figures yet to be recorded, Boeing is just 12 aircraft deliveries shy of doubling its 2020 delivery figure.
Boeing not out of the woods yet
According to a CNBC report, Boeing delivered 34 new aircraft to customers in November. November’s sales figures saw Boeing increase its order book for the tenth month running. While the 2021 figures mark a strong rebound for Boeing, its final sales figures for the year will still fall short of the 380 aircraft it delivered in 2019.
Across November, Akasa Air signed on the dotted line for 77 MAX aircraft. Southwest Airlines ordered seven more MAXs, and 777 Partners rounded off the month with an order for 30 MAXs. In contrast, there were just 18 canceled orders in November – all MAXs.
But Boeing isn’t out of the woods yet. Its share price dropped sharply earlier this week as bearish investors responded to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the airline industry and an overall subdued outlook for new aircraft orders over the next few years.
While Boeing is expected to start reporting profits again, profit levels and growth rates are unlikely to match the boom years of the latter half of the last decade.
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Boeing resolves issues surrounding the 737 MAX
Boeing appears to have overcome the problems surrounding the 737 MAX. A year after regulatory authorities began clearing the jet to fly again, the MAX has largely dropped off the front pages and is flying incident-free.
But Boeing is still holding a substantial MAX inventory. CNBC reports Boeing has around 370 finished MAXs on its hands awaiting delivery. Orders from Chinese airlines account for about one-third of the undelivered planes.
With China now making moves to lift its longstanding ban on MAXs flying in its airspace, the inventory backlog may soon begin to resolve.
More problematic for Boeing are long-running and unresolved issues surrounding its 787 Dreamliner program. Out of 829 gross orders Boeing has taken so far this year, only 21 were for Dreamliners. Boeing took no orders for Dreamliners in November.
Dreamliner problems continue to dog Boeing
Dreamliner deliveries were paused earlier this year while Boeing worked to sort production and quality control issues concerning the aircraft. The current delivery pause followed a previous pause between November 2020 and March 2021. Boeing doesn’t have a restart date yet on the current delivery pause.
That’s causing disruptions at airlines that anticipated new aircraft arriving on schedule and planned their networks accordingly. As a result, some airlines are rejigging orders and even canceling.
American Airlines recently cut back its international schedules over the northern summer season because of Dreamliner delays. The Dallas-based airline was expecting 13 new Dreamliners this year -so far, it has received one.
“Without these widebodies, we simply won’t be able to fly as much internationally as we had planned next summer, or as we did in summer 2019,” American’s Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja wrote in a memo earlier this month and disclosed in The Wall Street Journal.
Apparently, American Airlines has no real idea when the remainder of the overdue Dreamliners will start landing. Competitor United Airlines was also expecting eight new Dreamliners in the first half of this year.
Boeing says it wants to take its time to sort out the problems surrounding the Dreamliner, but the big aircraft manufacturer is feeling the pressure from unhappy customers. By April 1, 2022, as many as 66 Dreamliners will become at least one year overdue, allowing customers to walk away from the order without a financial penalty. It is believed American Airlines has threatened to do so.
While the growth in Boeing’s order book and a doubling of its 2020 delivery numbers is good news, Boeing still has significant issues to resolve before it finds clear air.