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Boeing Reports Lowest Annual Deliveries In Decades

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Boeing reported a sharp drop in orders and deliveries across its commercial and defense operations in fiscal 2020, despite a slight growth in December with the return of its long grounded 737 MAX to service. The annual deliveries are the airplane maker's lowest since 1978.

The company handed over 59 jets in the fourth quarter, and 157 jets in fiscal 2020. These include cargo and military planes. In comparison, deliveries in previous year's fourth quarter were 79 units, while fiscal 2019 deliveries were 380 units.

However, deliveries for the month of December were 39, higher than prior year's 35.

Boeing's deliveries for the year are way behind its major rival Airbus SE, which reportedly delivered 566 aircraft during the year 2020, lower than the previous year's deliveries of 863 units.

In 2020, Boeing's gross orders were 184 units, including 117 in the fourth quarter. There were no orders in the month of October.

In the year 2019, Boeing's net orders were 241. Meanwhile, in 2018, prior to the 737 MAX crisis, net orders were 874.

There were 4,997 unfilled orders as of December 31, including 4029 for 737 and 513 for 787.

Greg Smith, Boeing executive vice president of Enterprise Operations and chief financial officer, said, "Through the global pandemic, we took meaningful steps to adapt to our new market, transform our business and deliver for our commercial, defense, space and services customers in 2020. The resumption of 737 MAX deliveries in December was a key milestone as we strengthen safety and quality across our enterprise."

Boeing was struggling with the grounding of its most popular and best-selling aircraft 737 MAX since March 2019 following two deadly crashes. The company also halted deliveries of the 787 Dreamliner due to manufacturing defects.

However, in mid November last year, the Federal Aviation Administration lifted its 20-month safety ban on the 737 Max aircraft, and on November 30, it issued first airworthiness certificate for one of the new Boeing 737 Max jets.

In December, Alaska Airlines ordered another 23 Boeing 737 MAXs, bringing its total order to 68 MAXs. The 737 MAXs will replace most of the Airbus aircraft in Alaska's fleet. Earlier in December, Ryanair Holdings plc placed a firm order for 75 additional 737 MAX aircraft, increasing its order book to 210 jets.

In its latest delivery statement, Boeing said it continued comprehensive inspections of 787 airplanes to ensure they meet highest quality standards prior to delivery.

The company added that its working closely with global customers amid the pandemic, and monitoring the slow international traffic recovery to align supply with market demand across its widebody programs.

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