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Going negative: Boeing records more cancellations than orders for commercial airplanes in 2019

Alan Boyle
Dozens of 737 MAX jets were parked at Seattle’s Boeing Field in July, as seen in a Planet SkySat satellite image. (Planet Image Processed by Leanne Abraham)

Amid its 737 MAX crisis, Boeing Commercial Airplanes is reporting a negative number for net orders in 2019, meaning that it booked more cancellations than new orders over the course of the past year.

  • The net tally for the year, reported today, is -87 — which Boeing says is the first time in at least 20 years that the number has fallen below zero. The biggest negative (-183) was in the 737 category, due to the the grounding of the MAX in the wake of two catastrophic crashes in October 2018 and March 2019. A complicated shift in airplane orders by Emirates Air contributed to a negative number for the 777 category (-4). Positive numbers in other categories couldn’t make up the gap.
  • Deliveries were also down dramatically — again, primarily due to the freeze on the 737 MAX. The 2019 delivery tally of 380 was particularly painful coming after a record pace of 806 deliveries in 2018. For what it’s worth, hundreds of 737 MAX jets are parked at storage sites, waiting to be delivered once the 737 MAX is cleared to fly again.
  • Boeing’s accounting was complicated by a tightening of the rules for counting orders. Without the stricter requirements, the company would have reported a 54-plane gain in net orders for 2019. But by any measure, Boeing lagged far behind its Europe-based archrival, Airbus, which reported 768 net orders for commercial aircraft and 863 deliveries over the past year.

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