Boeing Co. 737 Max planes are seen at the company’s manufacturing facility in Renton in March 2019. (David Ryder/Bloomberg, file)

Boeing Co. 737 Max planes are seen at the company’s manufacturing facility in Renton in March 2019. (David Ryder/Bloomberg, file)

GE cuts 737 Max order in new blow to best-selling Boeing jet

Both companies have announced cost cuts and curtailed operations amid the virus outbreak.

By Richard Clough / Bloomberg

General Electric Co.’s aircraft-leasing division scrapped orders for 69 undelivered 737 Max jets, dealing another blow to Boeing Co. amid a severe downturn in jetliner demand because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The cancellations stem from an agreement with Boeing to “rebalance” the order book, GE Capital Aviation Services said in a statement Friday. Gecas already has 29 Max planes in its fleet and will maintain orders for 82 more of Boeing’s best-selling plane, which has been grounded for more than a year after two deadly crashes.

The decision by one of the Max’s biggest customers deepens the pain for Boeing, which recently said it lost 150 orders for the beleaguered jet last month. Both Boeing and GE have announced cost cuts and curtailed operations amid the virus outbreak, which has upended economies and nearly eliminated demand for commercial air travel. Boeing said Thursday it would reopen its Seattle-area factories next week.

The Gecas announcement didn’t specify the models of the Max, which range in list price from $99.7 million to $134.9 million. That means the canceled order is worth at least $6.9 billion before typical customer discounts.

Boeing surged 11% to $149.44 at 9:49 a.m. in New York, the biggest gain on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, after its announcement on restarting commercial-plane manufacturing. GE, which also supplies the planemaker with jet engines, jumped 5.9% to $6.61.

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