BOEING UPDATE: 747 discontinued, 777X delayed, 737 Max output reduced

Boeing reports $2.4bn quarterly loss and discloses plans to scale back jet production across its portfolio
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British Airways became one of the latest carriers to announce it was retiring its 747 fleet.
British Airways became one of the latest carriers to announce it was retiring its 747 fleet.

Boeing will stop producing the iconic 747 jumbo jet in 2022, which is also when 777X launch customer Emirates will receive its first mini jumbo – a year later than previously planned.

The US planemaker will also be reducing output of its 777s, 787 Dreamliners and previously best-selling 737 Max aircraft in the wake of the pandemic and its impact on air travel.

Boeing on Wednesday disclosed a $2.4 billion loss in the quarter ending on 30 June as revenues fell 25% to $11.8bn. European rival Airbus said it was also slashing production after losing $1.4 billion.

“The reality is the pandemic’s impact on the aviation sector continues to be severe,” wrote Dave Calhoun, Boeing’s CEO, in a letter to staff.

He said that the pressure from the pandemic has meant airlines are delaying jet purchases, slowing deliveries, deferring elective maintenance, retiring older aircraft and reducing spend, impacting on Boeing’s bottom line.

A number of airlines including Qantas and British Airways have already announced they are retiring their 747 fleets early and with passenger numbers not expected to recover fully until 2024, the demand for new wide-body aircraft remains low.

The demand for new narrow-bodies is also low, causing Boeing to rethink its production schedule for the 737 Max, which remains grounded following two crashes which killed 346 people.

While Boeing said it has re-started production of the Max, it plans on making 31 per month by 2022, roughly half the output rate planned before the jet was grounded. Calhoun said that Max deliveries would be delayed until Q4 2020, rather than Q3.

The Max grounding has already cost Boeing some $20 billion and the company said that potential concessions to airline customers relating to the Max increased by $551 million in the last quarter.

Boeing said it will reduce the 787 production rate to six aircraft per month in 2021, while the 777/777X combined production rate will be reduced to two per month in 2021.

Calhoun also told employees that the company, which previously announced a 10% reduction in its workforce, will need to make further job cuts.

“Regretfully, the prolonged impact of Covid-19 causing further reductions in our production rates and lower demand for commercial services means we’ll have to further assess the size of our workforce,” he said.

In the last quarter, Boeing delivered 20 aircraft, compared to 90 in the same period last year.

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