For the first time in seven years, orders for Boeing’s commercial aircraft fell below 5,000 units, the company announced today. With previous cancellations related to the coronavirus and continuing issues with the 737 MAX, Boeing also recognized that many of the orders were for companies unlikely to be financially strong enough to actually take delivery. By employing a revised accounting standard, Boeing erased a total of 480 orders from the books, with 427 of those the 737, four for the 747, 20 for the 777, and 29 for the 787. The backlog is now at 4,834, with almost 3,900 of those 737 models, which Boeing expects to return to production this month.
But that’s not the whole of it. Boeing has been suffering contract cancellations and deferrals throughout the first quarter of 2020. According to data reported today, Boeing has lost 304 sales through “contractual changes,” with 299 of those involving the 737 family alone. Boeing’s order book is not made to look more encouraging by the new sales through the end of April, just 49 aircraft, led by 29 orders for the 787. Through that same time period, Boeing delivered just 56 commercial aircraft, led by the 787 (33 units), 767 (10) and 777 (7). The 737 MAX has been grounded for 14 months with no clear sign when it will be cleared to fly again, and a likely long ramp up before the mothballed airframes can be put into service. Of course, with travel demand down to around 10 percent of its previous levels, few airlines are eager to add to their fleets.