Boeing’s final tally of 2019 commercial jet orders and deliveries, released Tuesday, starkly displays just how bad the year was: Deliveries were down to a level last seen more than a decade ago when all production was halted by a two-month strike. And net orders were negative — with more cancellations than new orders.
The annual competition between the rival jetmakers was no contest, with Airbus the runaway winner.
Airbus released its final sales and production tally Monday, showing it delivered a total of 863 jets and won 768 net new orders in 2019.
In contrast, Boeing delivered only 380 planes, its lowest total since a 57-day strike shut down production in 2008.
Airbus’ total jet deliveries were worth about $60 billion compared to Boeing’s $42 billion, based on market pricing estimates from aircraft valuation firm Avitas.
In an indication of the paralysis gripping Boeing’s business, orders also plummeted. There were very few for the MAX, offset by many more cancellations.
Boeing’s overall net order figure for the year was -87.
The total value of the Airbus orders, based on Avitas estimates, is about $39 billion. Boeing’s negative total means it lost about $2.5 billion in orders for the year.
Deliveries hit by MAX grounding
Airbus’ big delivery advantage was in the MAX’s single-aisle jet sector.
In addition to its A320 family of jets that competes with the MAX, this year Airbus also built 48 smaller A220s. That’s the former Bombardier C Series jet that Airbus acquired essentially for free at the end of 2017.
Boeing has no comparable-size small jet. It’s negotiating to acquire the E-jets of Brazil’s Embraer, but that deal has not yet closed.
The high production rate on the 787 Dreamliner maintained Boeing’s lead in the larger-jet category, despite 777 production having been cut dramatically during the transition to the new 777X. Boeing delivered delivered 253 widebody jets to Airbus’s 173.
Boeing’s delivery total doesn’t reflect its production. Boeing built around 400 of its 737 MAXs, but with the jet grounded, they were parked with their engines and inlets wrapped for long-term storage. Boeing cannot deliver them.
A collapse in Boeing orders
The MAX crisis also hit Boeing’s orders, with very few deals finalized while the plane is grounded.
Boeing got a big boost at the Paris Air Show when British Airways announced its intention to place an order for 200 MAXs. But not surprisingly, that order hasn’t been finalized and likely won’t be until the airplane gets clearance to fly again from U.S. and foreign regulators.
Net orders for the MAX came in at -73 after cancellations. However, the net total was reduced further to -205 when Boeing subtracted from its gross order total another 132 customer commitments for 737s that don’t meet a U.S. accounting standard requiring a solid purchase contract to count as a firm order.
Boeing also suffered a net loss of orders for its upcoming 777X jet, which ended the year down 24 orders after Gulf carrier Emirates cut its order for the big widebody jet and substituted an order for 30 smaller 787s.
Boeing signed customer deals for a total of 141 jets in 2019 that it considers firm commitments but that don’t meet the U.S. accounting standard and so cannot be counted as orders.
Adding in those 141 commitments as Boeing orders would make the U.S. jetmaker’s order total slightly positive, bringing up the 2019 net jet order total to 54.
Still, even with that adjustment, at the end of 2019 the MAX crisis left Airbus the undisputed No. 1 airplane manufacturer by a long way.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Airbus led Boeing in widebody jet deliveries. Boeing delivered 253 of the larger jets to 173 for Airbus.
Also, the story stated that Airbus did not have to meet the U.S. accounting standard that prevented Boeing from counting 141 commitments as orders. While that’s true, the Airbus figures comply with an equivalent international accounting standard, which makes the net order totals comparable as reported.