Boeing reported no new commercial aircraft orders in May. It was the second straight month that Boeing’s orders were at a standstill in the face of the 737 Max crisis.
The drop in orders isn’t only because of the grounding of the 737 Max. Boeing also has a massive backorder of about 5,000 planes. Many of its customers do not need to place orders for additional jets right now.
Next week is also the Paris Air Show, the key industry trade show for the year, at which Boeing and rival Airbus typically like to announce orders. So May is often a slower month for new orders.
Yet Boeing booked orders for 43 jets in May of 2018, ahead of that year’s Paris Air Show. And 21 of those orders were for the 737 Max.
The 737 Max was grounded in mid-March after the second fatal crash of one of the planes in Ethiopia. Boeing is trying to win federal approval for a fix of an automatic safety feature which has been the focus of the crash investigations.
Boeing has continued to build the 737 Max during the grounding, though at a reduced pace.
Boeing canceled 71 orders for the 737 Max in May. But that had nothing to do with the grounding of the plane. Those planes were intended for Indian airline Jet Airways via various sales agreements. But Jet Airways halted operations in April after failing to secure emergency funding from banks.
“Due to the airline’s current status, we have canceled the contractual agreements for those airplanes,” Boeing said in a statement on Tuesday.
The 737 Max grounding has also halted deliveries of that plane, and it cut deeply into Boeing’s overall deliveries last month. Boeing gets most of its cash from the sale of planes at the time of delivery, so the grounding is hurting its bottom line.
Boeing delivered just 30 commercial jets in May, including eight older-version 737 planes. A year ago it delivered 68 jets in May, including 19 of the 737 Max, as well as 28 of the older versions of the jet.