By Richard Clough / Bloomberg
It took 11 months, but Boeing recorded the year’s first official orders for the 737 Max.
The planemaker booked orders for 30 of the grounded aircraft in November, following a pair of agreements that had been announced at the Dubai Airshow. After cancellations and conversions, Max orders remain underwater for the year, though increased to minus 73 from minus 93 the previous month, according to Boeing’s website Tuesday.
The new total buoys Boeing as it works to regain confidence in its top-selling model and return the Max to service amid a global grounding that began in March. The crisis has engulfed the Chicago-based manufacturer, which has had to contend with bruising headlines, wary customers and demanding lawmakers after a pair of crashes killed 346 people.
For the year, Boeing’s net orders for all models, adjusted for accounting considerations, rose to negative 84. The manufacturer is far behind its European rival, Airbus, which has logged 718 net orders in 2019.
Boeing’s shares fell less than 1% to $349.03 in noontime trading in New York. The stock rose 8.9% this year through Monday, trailing the 25% gain in the S&P 500.
The Max orders in November include 10 of the narrow-body jet for Turkey’s SunExpress and 20 planes for an unidentified customer. The firm deals are the first of the year for the Max, although Boeing earlier logged some orders that customers converted from other models.
Boeing’s figures don’t include several large orders this year that have yet to be firmed up. IAG, the owner of British Airways, announced a letter of intent in June to buy 200 Max jets, while Kazakhstan’s Air Astana reached a tentative agreement in November for 30 of the planes.
The Max tally took a modest hit in November after China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings converted an order for eight of the aircraft into two 787 Dreamliners, Boeing said. There were two other Max cancellations.
Separately, Emirates last month scaled back plans to buy Boeing and Airbus planes as the carrier reassesses its fleet. That resulted in the conversion of 30 777X jets to 30 Dreamliners. Boeing also removed 11 other 777X aircraft from its backlog for accounting reasons, though Emirates still currently plans to take those planes.
Boeing delivered 24 aircraft in November, pushing its 2019 total to 345. The total backlog now stands at 5,457, down slightly from October.