Boeing’s order book for the still-grounded 737 MAX continued to shrivel in April as the novel coronavirus pandemic cut air passenger traffic by about 90% and pushed airlines around the world into financial distress.
And with production halted for most of the month to try to make its jet plants safe from the coronavirus, Boeing delivered just five commercial airplanes in April and one military derivative.
Customers canceled orders for 108 Boeing 737 MAXs last month. In addition, Boeing removed a further 99 MAX orders that had previously been booked from the official backlog. That leaves the company’s order book more than 500 in the red for the year.
The 99 MAX orders Boeing deleted from the backlog in April were previously placed by airlines now facing such severe financial stress their commitments are no longer deemed solid enough to meet U.S. accounting standards.
Two orders for 787 Dreamliners were also removed from the backlog for the same reason. Boeing declined to name the customer, but it’s likely those are the two remaining unfilled 787 orders for Avianca of Colombia, an airline that just filed for bankruptcy.
Unsurprisingly, with airlines overwhelmed by a lack of demand, Boeing won no new orders in the month. With the added cancellations and removals, that leaves the net order tally for the year negative at minus-516 airplanes.
In April, European rival Airbus won nine net orders: for eight A320neos and one A321neo. And it delivered 14 jets: a dozen A320neos, one A350 and one A330ceo.
For the year through the end of April, Airbus reported 66 jet order cancellations resulting in net orders for 299 airplanes.
Boeing’s Puget Sound-area factories reopened after a four-week closure on April 21, and the North Charleston, South Carolina, assembly lines closed April 8 for the rest of the month.
In April, North Charleston delivered three 787 Dreamliners while Everett delivered one 787 Dreamliner and one 777 cargo jet. The Renton 737 factory delivered one P-8 military derivative submarine hunter to the Navy.
Omitting a total of 427 commitments for the MAX that are now too doubtful to be counted, Boeing’s 737 official order backlog now stands at 3,871 aircraft, of which about 50 are military derivatives and the rest are MAXs.
Boeing’s official current order backlog across all programs stands at 4,834, down 215 aircraft from a month earlier.
Airbus said its backlog stands at 7,645 jets.
However, the backlogs for both manufacturers are likely to shrink significantly in the year ahead as the financial troubles of the airlines gather pace, some airlines fail, and realistic projections are made of future demand.