Boeing’s year to forget ended on the lowest possible note after the planemaker revealed it delivered just 156 commercial aircraft in 2020 – its lowest total since 1977.
Significantly, it’s also far fewer than managed by its great rival Airbus, which delivered a far more healthy 566.
The low numbers, predictably driven by COVID, compare with Boeing’s record high of 806 in 2018.
Chief financial officer Greg Smith said the business was able to take “meaningful steps” to adapt to a new market in 2020.
“The resumption of 737 MAX deliveries in December was a key milestone as we strengthen safety and quality across our enterprise,” said Smith.
“We also continued comprehensive inspections of our 787 airplanes to ensure they meet our highest quality standards prior to delivery.
“While limiting our 787 deliveries for the quarter, these comprehensive inspections represent our focus on safety, quality and transparency, and we’re confident that we’re taking the right steps for our customers and for the long-term health of the 787 program.
“As we continue navigating through the pandemic, we’re working closely with our global customers and monitoring the slow international traffic recovery to align supply with market demand across our widebody programs. In 2021, we’ll continue taking the right actions to enhance our safety culture, preserve liquidity and transform our business for the future.”
The bad news comes a week after the US Department of Justice fined Boeing US$2.5 billion for deceiving FAA safety officials who initially cleared the 737 MAX to fly.
In a scathing statement, a series of senior figures accused Boeing of “fraudulent and deceptive conduct”, “concealing material information” and “engaging in an effort to cover up their deception”.
Boeing chief executive David Calhoun said the huge penalty “appropriately acknowledges how we fell short of our values and expectations”.
The decision came weeks after the MAX was once again cleared to fly after being grounded due to two fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed 346 people.