NEW YORK (AFP) – Boeing reported Tuesday a net drop in commercial plane orders in 2019 and much lower deliveries as its protracted 737 MAX crisis weighed heavily on operations.
The aerospace giant suffered a net drop of 87 orders for the year following cancellations as it booked few new orders for the MAX, which has been grounded since March following two deadly crashes.
Besides cancellations, some of the drop in net orders was from customers who have “converted” MAX orders into a smaller number of orders for the larger 787 “Dreamliner” plane.
Boeing made just 380 plane deliveries for 2019, fewer than half the number the prior year.
Boeing last month announced it was suspending production on the MAX as it seeks regulatory approval for upgrades to the plane following the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes that together claimed 346 lives.
Boeing has built and stored hundreds of new MAX planes since the global grounding last year.
Chief Executive David Calhoun, who officially began his duties on Monday, has highlighted the safe return to service of the MAX as a top priority, along with restoring the company’s reputation following a series of embarrassing internal communications that have pointed to major problems in corporate culture.
Earlier, new Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun told employees on Monday the company must strengthen its culture, focus on “integrity” and be “transparent,” according to an email sent to staff.
Calhoun, a longtime Boeing board member, officially took over on Monday as chief executive, replacing Dennis Muilenburg, who was ousted in December as the company faces a drawn-out crisis following deadly crashes of a top-selling jet.
Calhoun invoked Boeing’s “tremendous legacy of aerospace achievement” and called on employees to work to “rebuild trust” and restore key relationships with customers, partners and regulators.
“I see greatness in this company but I also see opportunities to be better. Much better,” Calhoun said.
“That includes engaging one another and our stakeholders with greater transparency, holding ourselves accountable to the highest standards of safety and quality and incorporating outside-in perspective on what we do and how we do it.”
He takes the reins four days after the release of a new trove of embarrassing employee emails, including one saying the 737 MAX was “designed by clowns.”
The aircraft has been grounded since March following two deadly crashes.