Boeing Company’s orders and deliveries sank in the first quarter, with zero new orders for the 737 MAX following a worldwide grounding in March in the wake of two fatal plane crashes.
The groundings forced Boeing to freeze deliveries of the MAX, which had been its fastest-selling jetliner until a March 10 crash on Ethiopian Airlines that killed all 157 onboard, just five months after a similar crash on Lion Air that killed all 189 passengers and crew.
According to Reuters, total orders, an indication of future demand, fell to 95 aircraft in the first quarter from 180 a year earlier, suggesting a wait-and-watch approach for airlines as Boeing rides out the worst crisis in its history.
Still, Boeing is ahead of its European rival Airbus, which last week said it had won 62 gross orders during the first three months of 2019 but some 120 cancellations left it with a negative net order.
Chicago-based Boeing’s first-quarter 737 deliveries tumbled about 33 percent, pushing total aircraft deliveries down 19 percent to 149 from a year earlier. Boeing delivered just 11 MAX in March before the suspension.
Deliveries are financially important because that is when planemakers receive the bulk of money from airlines’ purchases.
It is still unclear when the MAX jets will fly again, with global regulators including China saying they would join a US Federal Aviation Administration panel to review the aircraft’s safety.
“A fix and removal of the grounding prior to September 2019 could be perceived positively,” Jefferies analyst Sheila Kahyaoglu said, noting that fresh scrutiny of the certification process could potentially filter into Boeing’s 777X programme.