SEATTLE — October brought no relief for Boeing’s commercial airplane business. It won zero new sales, had to remove an additional 37 Maxes from the order backlog and delivered just 13 jets.
Boeing’s struggles in October contrast sharply with a surge in jet deliveries and a small uptick in orders at rival Airbus.
Airbus won 11 new orders and delivered a total of 72 aircraft in October.
Even with approval for the 737 Max to fly again expected by year’s end, the order book for that plane continues to shrink.
Boeing outright canceled a dozen orders for 737 Maxes last month. It also removed an additional 25 of those aircraft from the official backlog as no longer certain to be fulfilled.
Such removals from the order book are required by accounting standards when either the credit quality of an airline has lowered to a point where it may no longer be able to pay for the jets or because the delay in delivering the airplane, under the terms of the contract, makes a cancellation possible.
So far this year, Boeing has removed 595 now-dubious Max orders from the backlog and outright canceled a further 448, for a total order reduction of 1,043 Maxes.
As a result, the 737 Max backlog as of Oct. 30 fell to 3,320 jets.
The backlog for Airbus’ rival A320neo family is 5,956 jets.
Boeing’s net order tally for the year, after all the Max subtractions, is negative 1,020 airplanes. Airbus’s net order total for the year is 308 aircraft.
Boeing’s overall order backlog for all models is 4,275 airplanes. The Airbus total backlog is 7,377 airplanes.
Inventory swells, deliveries stall
The pandemic has forced a huge drop in demand for airplanes, and international travel restrictions are hampering some of the few airlines willing to pick up a jet.
In addition, Boeing deliveries continue to be slowed by the need for inspections and rework on 787 Dreamliners following discovery of quality defects in the aft fuselage section built in North Charleston, S.C..
On the quarterly earnings call at the end of last month, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Greg Smith said delivery of the “large number of undelivered 787 aircraft in inventory ... has been and is expected to remain relatively slow” because of the inspections and rework.
Boeing hasn’t been able to deliver any 737 Maxes since the jet was grounded in March 2019.