The Boeing 737 Max 10 airplane landing at Boeing Field in Seattle on June 18. (Chona Kasinger / Bloomberg)

The Boeing 737 Max 10 airplane landing at Boeing Field in Seattle on June 18. (Chona Kasinger / Bloomberg)

Boeing delivers more 737 Maxs as other orders are canceled

In July, Boeing delivered 28 commercial jets, won 31 gross orders and had 17 orders canceled.

By Dominic Gates / The Seattle Times

With global domestic air travel recovering haltingly from the pandemic downturn, Boeing delivered 28 commercial jets in July, including 22 of its single-aisle 737 Maxes.

Data released Tuesday shows Boeing through July had delivered 154 Maxes to airlines since the jet returned to service in the final days of last year.

Nine of those delivered last month were the high-density 737-8200 version built specifically for Ireland’s Ryanair. Most of the rest were aircraft parked during the Max’s prolonged grounding and taken out of long-term storage.

However, with long-haul international travel still more than 80% down from pre-pandemic levels, the data shows Boeing delivered just five widebody aircraft last month. Those were four freighters and one refueling tanker for the Air Force — but not a single widebody passenger jet.

On the sales front, Boeing won 31 gross orders in July but also had 17 orders canceled.

And in a further adjustment made in July, orders for 10 widebody 787 Dreamliners were removed from the backlog because those planes were deemed no longer likely to be delivered due to contractual or financing issues.

That’s almost certainly because of the ongoing problems with fuselage manufacturing flaws that have caused more than 100 undelivered 787s to stack up in storage.

With one 737 Max restored to the backlog as Boeing managed to firm up that contract again, the upshot of all the additions and removals was that Boeing’s net order tally for the year — which in previous months was boosted by big Max orders from Alaska, Southwest and United — bumped up in July just three aircraft, to 270 jets.

Similarly afflicted by the pandemic downturn, rival Airbus won just two new orders in July for A320neo single-aisle aircraft. At the same time, Czech Airlines canceled orders for three Airbus A321neos and four smaller A220-300s, so the European planemaker had a net loss of five jet orders for the month.

Missing the boost Boeing got from the return of the Max, Airbus’ net order tally for this year is just 33 jets.

However, Airbus remains far ahead of the U.S. manufacturer because of heavy sales of its A320neo during the Max grounding. The total order backlog for Airbus now stands at 6,873 aircraft compared to 4,141 aircraft for Boeing.

737 Max moving, 787 at a standstill

Boeing won new orders in July for 19 Maxes, including six more from prime customer Southwest, while orders for 15 of the same jet were canceled.

About 450 Maxes are still left in storage from the grounding. About half of those are expected to be returned to the skies this year and most of the rest the next year.

With the Max final assembly lines in Renton now building about 16 jets per month, many of those are going straight into temporary storage as Boeing and airlines await regulatory approvals or simply more demand.

Boeing still has 3,272 unfilled orders for the Max.

The U.S. planemaker also booked orders for 12 of its more expensive widebody jets, including seven freighter models and five 787 Dreamliner passenger aircraft. Separately, orders for two 787s were canceled.

That’s in addition to the dozen Dreamliner orders removed from the official backlog because they are now considered unlikely to be fulfilled.

This shrinking of the 787 backlog is likely a direct result of the manufacturing flaws that have bedeviled the 787 Dreamliner program since last year and left more than 100 of the jets parked and unable to be delivered until the Federal Aviation Administration approves Boeing’s fixes and inspection protocols.

Unless Boeing can soon solve the 787 problems, it’s likely the delivery delays will enable more customers to back out of their contracts.

Lagging Airbus in output

With 787 deliveries halted, 737 Max output still ramping up slowly, and 777 production also slow with no deliveries last month, Boeing still lags rival Airbus in airplane deliveries.

Besides the 22 Maxes, Boeing last month delivered one 737-based P-8 anti-submarine plane to the Navy, one 767-based KC-46 tanker for the Air Force, one 747-8 jumbo jet freighter to UPS and three 767 freighters to FedEx.

Airbus delivered 47 airplanes in July. Of those, just two were widebody aircraft, both A350-900 passenger jets.

The rest consisted of 22 single-aisle A320neos; 17 larger single-aisle A321neos; two older model single-aisles, an A319 and A320; plus four of the smaller Canadian-designed A220s.

Through the end of July, Airbus has delivered a total of 344 jets, almost twice the Boeing delivery total of 184 jets.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the net number of 787 orders that were removed from the backlog in July. The story was updated with the correct figure, which is 10.

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