By Eric M. Johnson
SEATTLE – Boeing Co said on Tuesday that deliveries fell to 27 airplanes in October while its 787 remains sidelined, but the U.S. planemaker seized on strong air cargo demand by winning an order for two 777 freighters for Maersk’s Star Air.
October’s deliveries were eight fewer than in September but 14 more than in October last year, according to closely watched company data released on Tuesday.
Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and its 737 MAX are integral to the company’s ability to rebound from the pandemic and a safety scandal caused by two fatal crashes.
Of the 27 aircraft delivered last month, 18 were 737 MAXpassenger jets – six of which were for European low-cost carrier Ryanair. It also delivered two 737-800 business jets to an unnamed buyer, and two P-8 maritime patrol aircraft to the U.S. Navy, Boeing said.
The remaining five jets were larger widebodies feeding cargo capacity: a 747 freighter to United Parcel Service, one 777 and one 767 for FedEx Corp, a 777 freighter for Taiwan’s EVA Airways Corp, and one 767-based tanker for the U.S. Air Force, Boeing said.
During the pandemic, many airlines have been forced to idle unused passenger jets, driving up demand for cargo space on dedicated freighters at a time when e-commerce has been a lifeline for many.
This year, Boeing has delivered 268 aircraft, including 241 through September. It delivered 111 in the first 10 months of 2020.
Of the sales this year, 212 were its best-selling 737 MAX jets, which returned to service in late 2020 after a near two-year safety ban.
But Boeing continues to grapple with structural defects inits bigger 787, which have caused it to cut production and haltdeliveries.
“We have a clear line of sight to the steps ahead” on resuming 787 deliveries, Chief Executive Dave Calhoun told analysts last month. He gave no specific timeline pending regulatory approvals.
Boeing sold seven aircraft in October, after cancellations and instances where a buyer converted an order for one type ofaircraft to another.
It had 10 gross orders, which included eight 737 MAX jets whose buyer was unidentified, and two 777 freighters for Maersk’s Star Air.
Boeing said Air Lease Corp canceled an order fortwo 787-10 jets in October, while Aviation Capital Group dropped one 737 MAX.
That brings orders for the year so far from 710 to 720, or from 302 to 309 after cancellations and conversions, Boeing said.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle. Editing by Gerry Doyle)