As the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to depress the aviation market, neither Boeing nor Airbus booked a single new jet order in September.
With airlines still parking many airplanes and demand low for new jets — and with its 737 MAX still grounded — Boeing delivered just 11 airplanes in the month; Airbus delivered 57 planes, its highest monthly delivery total this year.
In addition, the number of MAX orders that so far this year have been either canceled outright or removed from the official backlog as doubtful rose past 1,000 aircraft.
Greg Smith, Boeing executive vice president of enterprise operations and chief financial officer, in a statement said the company is working to reduce production to align with demand “while navigating the significant impact this global pandemic continues to have on our industry.”
“We’re taking actions to resize, reshape and transform our business to preserve liquidity [and] adapt to the new market reality,” he said, adding that Boeing’s government services, defense and space programs “provide some stability” to counter the deep trough in the commercial jet market.
In addition to the hit from the pandemic, Boeing hasn’t been able since March 2019 to deliver any of its high-production-volume 737 MAXs.
Boeing delivered a total of just 98 commercial aircraft through September, a reduction of about two-thirds compared with the 301 delivered in the first nine months of 2019.
So far this year, Airbus has delivered a total of 341 commercial aircraft, a reduction of around 40% compared with the 571 jets delivered in the first nine months of 2019.
MAX orders shrinking
Customers canceled three orders for the 737 MAX in September, and accounting rules required Boeing to remove an additional 48 MAXs from the official backlog as no longer certain to be fulfilled.
Such removals from the order book are typically necessary 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 570 MAXs from the backlog for such reasons and customers have outright canceled a further 436 MAXs, so that the MAX order book has shrunk by a total of 1,006 aircraft.
The 737 MAX backlog as of Sept. 30 fell to 3,357 jets.
Highlighting the enormous impact of the MAX crisis on market share, Airbus in September reported a backlog for the rival A320neo family of aircraft of 5,992 jets.
Because of all the cancellations and removals from the backlog, Boeing’s net order tally in 2020 for all its jets now stands at negative 983 commercial airplanes.
Airbus this year has booked net total orders for 300 commercial airplanes.
Boeing’s total backlog for all its commercial jet programs at the end of September stood at 4,325 aircraft. Airbus said its total order backlog was 7,441 aircraft.
However, both manufacturers are likely to see further serious reductions in those figures as the effects of the pandemic continue to devastate the airline industry.
The orders most clearly at risk are at failing airlines now restructuring in some form of bankruptcy.
Airbus has 130 narrowbody jet orders from two such South American carriers, Avianca and Latam. Boeing has 94 similarly at-risk orders with Aeromexico and Virgin Australia.