Boeing’s 2021 delivery total of 340 airplanes more than doubled the number of units it shipped in 2020 and sales outpaced cancellations for the 11th straight month in December, according to new figures released by the manufacturer on Tuesday.
Deliveries for the month of December reached 38, including thirty-two 737 Max jets, a single P-8 Poseidon to the Norwegian air force, and just five widebodies, including one 747-8 and one 767 Freighter to UPS, one 767 Tanker to the Japan Air Self Defense Force, and a pair of 777 Freighters to Taiwan’s Eva Air. The fact that Boeing delivered no passenger widebodies during the month once again reflected the persistently dim outlook for near-term international traffic growth due to Covid-19 and the halt in 787 deliveries due to ongoing problems involving gaps between the model’s fuselage sections.
Meanwhile, December’s net orders for 79 airplanes brought totals in that category to 535 airplanes for the year, reflecting something of a return to normal order patterns following two dismal years. In fact, gross orders reached 909, compared with just 184 in 2020 and 246 in 2019. Again, passenger widebody demand proved weak and Boeing drew just 33 gross orders for airplanes in that category. However, net orders for 88 widebody freighters reflected a continuing strong cargo market.
Boeing enjoyed a record year for freighters, including 84 production freighters, which beat 2018’s total by a single airplane. Last year’s orders for Boeing Converted Freighters surpassed 100, more than doubling the previous record it set in pre-pandemic years.
But in a year that Boeing showed some semblance of recovery from the troubles that began with the grounding of the 737 Max in March 2019, its delivery totals looked paltry compared with those of Airbus, which delivered 611 airplanes during the year. The total of 611 commercial deliveries marked a welcome improvement over 2020, when Airbus handed over just 566 jets to customers as the Covid-19 pandemic forced airlines to scale back operations. Still, the 2021 delivery tally remains well below the total for 2019, when Airbus achieved a new record with 863 commercial aircraft deliveries to 99 customers.