Aerospace & Defense

Boeing jetliner orders continue to fall as 737 Max grounding wears on

Key Points
  • Boeing customers opted out of orders for 18 of the 737 Max planes last month.
  • Boeing halted deliveries of its 737 Max planes after a worldwide grounding prompted by two fatal crashes.
  • Rival Airbus has gained a lead over Boeing this year.
Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are stored in an area adjacent to Boeing Field, on June 27, 2019 in Seattle, Washington.
Stephen Brashear | Getty Images

Boeing orders continued to slow last month as the manufacturer, hamstrung by the grounding of its bestselling 737 Max after two fatal crashes, handed a bigger lead over to its European rival Airbus.

The company said Tuesday that it delivered just 20 commercial jetliners in October and customers opted out of a similar number of its 737 Max planes. Boeing delivered a record 806 planes in 2018, a figure the company aimed to increase this year.

Boeing's net orders for the year fell to 45 in October from 56 the month before. Aircraft leasing firm Air Lease converted 15 of its ordered 737 Max jets to five 787 Dreamliners, double-aisle planes that are used for longer routes such as trips between the U.S. and Asia and which cost more than single-aisle jetliners.

The company halted deliveries of the 737 Max, which are piling up at several of its U.S. facilities, after regulators grounded the jets worldwide in March. On Monday, Boeing said it hopes to resume deliveries of the planes as early as next month, pending regulator approval of post-crash fixes the company made to the planes.

Boeing has a backlog of more than 4,400 of its 737 Max planes. It cut production of the jetliners by 20% after the second crash but executives say they hope to ramp up output throughout 2020.

Boeing shares were down less than 1% in afternoon trading.

VIDEO27:5227:52
Watch CNBC's full interview with Boeing Chairman David Calhoun