Boeing loses world's largest plane-maker crown to Airbus

Grounding of 737 Max hits US company hard as net orders slump

Orders for Boeing's 737 Max have taken a beating amid uncertainty over when regulators will clear the plane to resume flights.
Orders for Boeing's 737 Max have taken a beating amid uncertainty over when regulators will clear the plane to resume flights.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON • Boeing lost the title of world's largest plane-maker as the 737 Max grounding sent the company to its biggest defeat in a 45-year duel with Airbus.

Deliveries tumbled to just 380 jets last year, Boeing said in a statement on Tuesday. That was less than half of Airbus' tally of 863 planes.

For the first time in at least three decades, Boeing also finished the year with negative net orders by one measure. The gross sales of 246 jets that it garnered were surpassed by those taken off the books due to order conversions, cancellations and an accounting adjustment, Bank of America analyst Ron Epstein said in a report.

Boeing's epic trouncing underscored the depth of the Max crisis after global regulators halted commercial flights and deliveries of the model in March, following two crashes that killed 346 people.

Airbus' victory was its first since 2011 and 10th since 1974, when the European company's A-300 jetliner made its commercial debut.

Last year, Boeing shipped only 127 of its single-aisle 737 planes, lagging behind Airbus' narrow-body total of 690 jets. But the Chicago-based company scored a win in twin-aisle jets, delivering 253 - 80 more than Airbus.

Boeing finished the year with a flurry of 787 Dreamliner shipments that will help bolster its cash. It handed over 45 of the marquee long-haul jets in the fourth quarter. That was five more than estimated by Cowen & Co analyst Cai von Rumohr, who said "the 787-driven delivery beat" could add about US$1.5 billion (S$2 billion) to its revenue.

Boeing reversed losses after the release of the data, which also showed a surge in deliveries of satellites and military aircraft to 231 units from 98 a year earlier. Its shares climbed less than 1 per cent to US$332.82 at 1.58pm in New York. "Underlying deliveries were strong outside of the 737 Max," Ms Sheila Kahyaoglu, a Jefferies analyst, said in a note to clients.

Orders for the Max have been dented amid uncertainty over when regulators will finally clear the plane to resume flights.\


Boeing recorded a total of 54 jetliner sales - net orders after cancellations and conversions - compared with 768 for Toulouse, France-based Airbus. Including an accounting rule that restricts the revenue US companies book from deals at risk of not materialising, the Boeing tally shrank to negative 87 orders for the year.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2020, with the headline 'Boeing loses world's largest plane-maker crown to Airbus'. Subscribe