In this Sept. 30 photo, a Boeing 737 Max jet prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

In this Sept. 30 photo, a Boeing 737 Max jet prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Boeing wins zero new orders, shrinks backlog of 737 Max jets

Deliveries continue to be slow due to rework on 787 Dreamliners following discovery of quality defects.

By Dominic Gates / The Seattle Times

October brought no relief for Boeing’s commercial airplane business. It won zero new sales, had to remove an additional 37 Maxs 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 Maxs 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 MaxS.

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, South Carolina.

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 Maxs since the jet was grounded in March 2019.

October deliveries included six widebody freighter jets — one 747, two 767s and three 777s — plus a 767 tanker that will be modified into a KC-46 for the Air Force and a P-8 anti-submarine 737 for the Navy.

Boeing delivered just five passenger jets last month: a large 777-300ER bought by Dubai-based lessor Novus Capital and destined for British Airways, and four midsize 787s, which went to American Airlines, Irish lessor AerCap, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Etihad of Abu Dhabi.

Airbus deliveries included 55 single-aisle passenger jets: 12 A220s (the former Bombardier CSeries aircraft) and 43 A320 family jets.

The European jet maker also delivered 17 widebody passenger jets: four midsize A330s, 12 large A350s and one A380 superjumbo jet.

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