Boeing delivers 26 planes in January as cancellations continue to outpace new sales

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American Airlines flight 718, the first U.S. Boeing 737 MAX commercial flight since regulators lifted a 20-month grounding in November, takes off from Miami, Florida, December 29, 2020.
Marco Bello | Reuters

Boeing said Tuesday that it delivered 26 planes to customers last month but order cancellations continued to outpace new sales as the manufacturer is still struggling in the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Chicago-based company sold four new aircraft in January, 747-8 freighters for cargo airline Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, and logged six cancellations.

Boeing’s backlog of planes that have been ordered but not yet delivered was 4,016 at the end of the month, including routine adjustments for orders the company sees as at risk, down from 4,055 at the end of December. In January 2020, Boeing’s backlog stood at 5,393.

The 26 deliveries included 21 of its 737 Max planes. Boeing resumed deliveries of the beleaguered jets to airlines in December after federal regulators lifted a 20-month grounding stemming from two deadly crashes that killed 346 people.

The company didn’t deliver any 787 Dreamliners, the widebody jets, whose handover to customers Boeing delayed so it could increase inspections after finding issues with certain seams on the aircraft. Last month, the company said it expected to resume deliveries of these planes later in the first quarter, forecasting “very few, if any” delivered in February.

Boeing’s problems that started with the 737 Max have ballooned with the Covid-19 pandemic, which has sapped demand for new jetliners. But the challenges aren’t limited to just the 737 Max or the 787 Dreamliner production issues.

Last week, Boeing said it cut its backlog of its newest jet, the 777X, by more than a third after disclosing it doesn’t expect the wide-body plane to enter service until late 2023. That is more than two years later than it previously forecast and driven by weaker demand and heightened regulatory scrutiny of aircraft after the 737 Max crashes.

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