Boeing orders, deliveries tumble as Max jet is grounded
Dallas – Orders and deliveries of Boeing’s 737 Max plunged in the first quarter as the plane was grounded around the world following a second deadly crash.
Boeing disclosed Tuesday that it received no new orders for the Max in March. It took 29 net orders for 737s in the first three months of the year, but it appeared that only 10 of those involved the Max, the latest version of Boeing’s best-selling plane. The buyers were not identified.
In the first quarter of last year, Boeing took 122 orders for 737s, including 112 for the Max, led by large orders from Southwest Airlines and Ireland’s Ryanair.
Boeing suspended Max deliveries in mid-March after regulators grounded the planes. First-quarter deliveries of all 737s including Max models fell to 89 from 132 in the same period last year.
Last week, Boeing announced that it will cut production of 737s from 52 a month to 42 a month. Meanwhile, airlines that own the nearly 400 Max jets are canceling flights.
The drop in deliveries was expected and the damage to Boeing could be temporary if the company can complete a fix to key software on the Max and reassure regulators and passengers that it is a safe plane.
Many analysts believe the deliveries will only be delayed, not lost forever, unless airlines cancel orders for the plane.
Regulators around the world grounded the plane last month after an Ethiopian Airlines Max crashed less than five months after a Lion Air Max plunged into the sea off the coast of Indonesia. In all, 346 people died.
Boeing has acknowledged that in each crash, a faulty sensor triggered an anti-stall system when it wasn’t needed, pushing the plane’s nose down. Pilots on each flight fought unsuccessfully to regain control, according to flight data retrieved from the planes.
The company is still working on the software update, which was delayed recently by several weeks because of the discovery of a second software problem. Boeing hasn’t described the second issue but says it is not related to the anti-stall system.
Separately on Tuesday, American Airlines cut a key revenue estimate after canceling 1,200 flights in the first quarter due to the grounding of its 24 Max jets.
American, the world’s biggest airline, said that it can’t predict the future financial harm from the plane’s grounding until it know how long the jets will be parked and the circumstances under which they will be allowed to fly again.
Over the weekend, American removed the plane from its schedule through June 5 – six weeks longer than before – underlining the realization among airlines that the Max will be parked longer than previously expected.
American says revenue for each seat flown one mile will be flat to up 1 percent, down from its initial forecast of flat to up 2 percent.
American also blamed the government shutdown and 940 cancellations due to faulty work by a contractor on the interiors of several other Boeing planes.