The first Alaska Airlines passenger flight on a Boeing 737-9 Max airplane takes off March 1 on a flight to San Diego from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

The first Alaska Airlines passenger flight on a Boeing 737-9 Max airplane takes off March 1 on a flight to San Diego from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Boeing finally sees positive net orders for airplanes

The orders could indicate that airlines are starting to feel more optimistic about a rebound in travel.

Associated Press

CHICAGO — Boeing Co. said Tuesday that it received more new orders than cancellations for commercial airplanes in February for the first time in 15 months.

The company reported 82 new orders and 51 cancellations for a net gain of 31. In addition, Boeing put orders for 16 planes back into its backlog, indicating it is now more confident that those sales will go through.

The orders could indicate that airlines are starting to feel more optimistic about a rebound in travel, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. In the U.S., the number of air travelers has been ticking up with the rollout of vaccines against COVID-19, although air travel remains far below pre-pandemic levels. Boeing suffered several months when it reported no orders, as airlines parked unneeded planes and cut costs to conserve cash.

Several of the February orders had been previously announced, including a United Airlines commitment to buy another 25 Boeing 737 Max jets. Boeing said other customers that it declined to identify ordered 14 Max planes, and it reported 27 new orders for its KC-46 military refueling plane.

Chicago-based Boeing said it delivered 22 commercial planes last month including 18 Max jets, led by five to Southwest Airlines and three to United.

The Max was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two crashes that killed 346 people. Regulators in the U.S., Europe, Canada, Brazil and other countries cleared the plane to resume flying after Boeing changed an automated flight-control system that played a role in the crashes.

Boeing says 14 airlines around the world are now flying passengers on Max jets, including American, United and Alaska airlines. Southwest plans to resume Max flights later this week.

Shares of Boeing rose more than 2% in late-morning trading.

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