Boeing delivers 29 aircraft in March; orders positive for second straight month

By Ankit Ajmera

(Reuters) – Boeing Co said on Tuesday it delivered 29 aircraft in March, up from 20 a year earlier, with the U.S. plane maker’s net orders staying positive for the second straight month as airlines get ready for a recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company’s orders appear to be turning a corner after the coronavirus crisis caused airline customers to cancel hundreds of jets on orders last year, resulting in one of the worst performances for Boeing ever.

Boeing’s net orders turned positive for the first time in 14 months in February as COVID-19 vaccine rollouts boosted the confidence of its customers.

The plane manufacturer said it booked March gross orders of 196 aircraft, all of them for its 737 family of jets. Net of cancellations and conversions, Boeing had 40 jet orders for its 737 planes last month.

Boeing said its March gross orders include previously announced 100 737 MAX orders for Southwest and 24 737 MAX orders for private investment firm 777 Partners and 11 orders for P8 military aircraft.

Turkish Airlines canceled 10 737 MAX airplane orders in March and converted 40 737 MAX jet orders to options.

China’s CDB Financial scrapped 16 737 MAX orders last month and China Aircraft Leasing canceled 26 737 MAX orders.

Alaska Air and United Airlines respectively re-contracted nine and 25 737 MAX orders last month for earlier delivery positions.

Nineteen 737 MAX orders were canceled by unidentified customers in March.

Boeing’s gross orders for the first quarter were 282 airplanes. Net of cancellations and conversions, orders stood at 69 aircraft in the quarter. Adjusted for stricter accounting standards, Boeing’s net orders were 76 airplanes in the first quarter ended March.

Boeing’s official backlog rose to 4054 aircraft orders in March from 4041 orders in February.

The company delivered a total of 77 airplanes in the first quarter, up from 50 aircraft a year earlier. Boeing resumed 787 jet deliveries in late March after halting them for four months due to production defects.

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)