The Renton 737 assembly line delivered only 34 jets, well below the production rate of 52 per month. To the good news, Boeing placed an important order for the beginning of the year and 18 Dreamliners were entrusted to an unidentified customer.
Boeing jet deliveries slowed significantly in January. In particular, the 737 assembly line in Renton delivered only 34 jets, which is well below the production rate of 52 per month, in part because of slower shipments to China, while in commercial negotiations with the United States.
In January, Boeing delivered 46 aircraft, including eight 787 full-body Dreamliners, well below the standard production rate for this model of 12 jet aircraft per month.
More positively, Boeing placed an important order for the beginning of the year: 18 Dreamliners were entrusted to an unidentified client.
Total orders for the month of 43 aircraft also included 19 Poseidon P-8 maritime military surveillance aircraft for naval forces in Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States.
January is usually a light month for deliveries and orders. Last week, its European competitor, Airbus, reported its activity and recorded a much worse performance than Boeing.
Airbus delivered only 39 aircraft in January and, instead of new orders, 13 aircraft cancellations were canceled. The cancellations included eight A380s for the Australian company Qantas, signaling that the flagship program of the jet manufacturer Superjumbo was about to be completed.
At Boeing, the shortage of 737 deliveries is partly due to supply chain issues that still affect the new 737 MAX model. At the end of January, Boeing President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg acknowledged persistent delays in CFM engine supply for the 737 MAX. Boeing has sent teams of engineers to CFM plants to help overcome these problems.
Boeing spokesman Paul Bergman said Tuesday by e-mail that "we still have a lot of work to do to fully recover and that, obviously, this remains a priority area for us."
Another problem is that Chinese airlines, which typically absorb a third of the 737 products, have slowed the pace of their deliveries, pending the settlement of the trade and tariff dispute between the United States and China.
In January, despite the late opening of last year a new 737 completion center in Zhoushan, Boeing has delivered only 737 in China.
Meanwhile, 737 that seem to be finished and ready to go, painted in the colors of seven Chinese airlines, are parked at Boeing Field or Renton. These include aircraft for Air China, China Eastern, Donghai, Shandong, Shenzhen, 9 Air and the low-budget airline China United Airlines.
Bergman de Boeing declined to comment on the lack of deliveries in China.
Last month, Chief Executive Officer Muilenburg gave optimistic prospects for 2019 during a teleconference, although he warned that "it is expected that the first quarter is the lightest quarter of the year and January is the lightest quarter of this quarter.
He added that Boeing "will continue to work hard for the health and recovery of the production system" and is still planning to increase the rate from 737 to 57 throws a month later this year.