Boeing surpassed by Airbus in deliveries as 737 MAX crisis bites

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Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are stored on employee parking lots near Boeing field in Washington state. STEPHEN BRASHEAR/GETTY IMAGES/AFP

Airbus is on track to overtake Boeing in commercial plane deliveries for this year after outpacing its US rival at mid-year following the 737 MAX grounding, according to data released on Tuesday.

Boeing, which has halted deliveries of the top-selling plane since mid-March, reported 239 commercial plane deliveries in 2019 through the year’s midpoint, down 37 per cent year-on-year.

 

Airbus reported 389 deliveries for the same period, up 28 per cent from the same period last year, according to data on its website.

If the numbers hold throughout the year, Airbus could replace Boeing as the world’s largest aircraft maker.

Boeing’s big decline in deliveries confirms the extent to which the 737 MAX crisis has dented its standing following two recent crashes that killed 346 people.

Boeing in June again reported no new orders for the 737 MAX.

Plane deliveries are tied to company revenues and closely monitored by Wall Street. Leading analysts have slashed their profit forecasts for Boeing due to the 737 MAX crisis, which has halted deliveries and forced the company to store planes after they are manufactured.

At the Paris Air Show in June, Boeing announced that it signed a letter of intent to sell 200 737 MAX planes to British Airways parent International Airlines Group (IAG). But the IAG order has not been officially booked yet.

 

On Monday, Saudi budget carrier flyadeal said it withdrew a provisional order for up to 50 Boeing’s grounded 737 MAX jets and would instead buy up to 50 Airbus planes.

Morningstar analyst Danny Goode said he does not expect other carriers to follow flyadeal as long as Boeing is able to ensure re-entry of the 737 MAX by the end of the year.

“While flyadeal’s withdrawal is a bit concerning, we would seriously revisit our delivery forecast if a flagship customer like Southwest or Ryanair flipped to Airbus’ A320neo or A220 platform,” Goode said in a note.

“We remain confident in the 737 MAX’s return to service.”

Boeing has developed a software upgrade to the 737 MAX after problems with a flight handling system were tied to Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes. But the jet has still not been cleared by regulators to resume work.

The Federal Aviation Administration last week identified a fresh problem during simulator testing, further clouding the outlook for the plane’s return to service.

Boeing shares rose 0.6 per cent to $353.23.