NEW YORK | The disappointments are increasing for Boeing: after the setbacks of the 737 MAX and the fall in air traffic linked to the pandemic, which weighed on the 2020 results, the group has further delayed the first deliveries of the 777X, at the end of 2023.
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These setbacks translate for the aircraft manufacturer into a net loss of $ 8.4 billion in the fourth quarter alone, from $ 11.9 billion in 2020.
This is the largest annual loss on record for the company.
The postponement of the first deliveries of the 777X, the world’s largest aircraft, resulted in a financial charge of $ 6.5 billion on the company’s fourth quarter accounts.
This is at least the third time that the company has delayed the first deliveries of the device. In October, the general manager, Dave Calhoun, again said that it would be sent to customers as early as 2022.
For Michel Merluzeau, expert from the AIR firm, this postponement is not surprising.
“The demand for international travel between major airports like London, New York or Tokyo has evaporated with the pandemic,” he told AFP. Airline companies currently prefer to use smaller planes like the Boeing 787 or the Airbus 350.
In addition, affected by the collapse of ticket sales since the start of the pandemic, “companies do not currently have the financial means”.
Companies like Emirates or Lufthansa “prefer to wait for demand to revitalize” before taking possession of the new 777X.
In addition, remarks Mr. Merluzeau, since the two close accidents of the 737 MAX which left 346 dead, the American aviation authority “has imposed much stricter conditions at the level of certification and flight tests”.
Problems on the 787
To the charge on the new 777X delay was added in the fourth quarter a provision of $ 468 million for the 737 MAX, back in the sky since November after being grounded for 20 months.
The group also incurred a charge of $ 275 million due to production problems on the KC-46A tanker aircraft, another of $ 290 million related to Boeing’s service offering inventories and a charge of 744 million dollars, already revealed during the announcement of an agreement with the Department of Justice, intended to settle lawsuits related to the 737 MAX.
Group sales fell 24% in 2020 to $ 58.2 billion, a drop linked to the 59% collapse in commercial aircraft deliveries.
Between October and December, revenue fell 15% to $ 15.3 billion.
Boeing also faced the problems of the long-haul 787 “Dreamliner”, whose deliveries were delayed after the discovery of manufacturing defects in the summer. However, it is at the time of delivery that companies pay most of the order.
“Despite solid progress on the vaccine front, the next six to nine months will remain very difficult for our airline customers and the industry as a whole,” Calhoun said on a conference call.
“It will take about three years for travel to return to 2019 levels and a few years beyond to return to our long-term growth trends,” he also noted.
Boeing plans to cut a total of 30,000 jobs between 2020 and 2021 and has reduced the production rate of several of its planes.
The manufacturer has been able to count on the strength of its activity in the fields of defense, space and maintenance services, as well as the increased demand for cargo planes with the explosion of online commerce since the beginning of the pandemic, to counteract the weakness of passenger transport, he noted.
But Boeing is also counting on the return to service of the 737 MAX, authorized to return to the sky in November by the American authorities and then by other regulators.
The European and British aviation authorities are the latest to give the green light on Wednesday. Calhoun said he expects to receive approval from all world authorities by the end of June.
Since the first lifting of the flight ban in November, the manufacturer has delivered 40 aircraft and five companies have put it back in their flight programs.