Boeing posted a net loss of $US561 million for the first quarter of 2021 but chief executive David Calhoun sees 2021 as a turning point.
The company’s sixth consecutive quarterly loss was an improvement on last year’s first-quarter net loss of $US641 and included a $24 million loss attributable to a non-controlling interest.
Revenue fell 10 percent to $US15.22 billion and was in line with analysts’ expectations.
“While the global pandemic continues to challenge the overall market environment, we view 2021 as a key inflection point for our industry as vaccine distribution accelerates and we work together across government and industry to help enable a robust recovery,’’ Calhoun said in the results announcement.
“Our balanced commercial, defense, space and services portfolio continues to provide critical stability for our business – and we remain focused on safety, quality and integrity as we deliver on our customer commitments.”
The company’s troubled Commercial Airplanes division saw revenue fall to $US4.3 billion driven by lower 787 deliveries.
These were partly offset by higher 737 deliveries after regulators in the US and other countries allowed the 737 MAX to return to the air after an extended grounding due to two fatal crashes.
Some MAX aircraft have subsequently been grounded because of electrical issues.
“Boeing is continuing to make progress on the safe return to service of the 737 MAX worldwide,’’ the company said
“In addition, we are working closely with the FAA and our customers to address electrical issues identified in certain locations in the flight deck of select 737 MAX airplanes.”
Boeing said it had delivered 85 737 MAX aircraft since the US Federal Aviation Administration approved its return to service last November and 21 airlines had returned their fleets to service.
This had seen the plane safely fly more than 26,000 revenue flights totaling over 58,500 flight hours (as of April 26, 2021).
“The 737 program is currently producing at a low rate and continues to expect to gradually increase production to 31 per month in early 2022 with further gradual increases to correspond with market demand’” Boeing said.
“The company will continue to assess the production rate plan as it monitors the market environment and engages in customer discussions.”
The company also resumed 787 deliveries in late March after they were suspended due to production issues.
Boeing said this followed “comprehensive reviews to ensure each airplane meets the company’s highest standards”.
“During the quarter, the 787 program consolidated final assembly to Boeing South Carolina and transitioned to the previously announced production rate of five aircraft per month,’’ it said.
“Commercial Airplanes continues to work closely with global regulators on all aspects of 777X development, including its rigorous test program, and the company still expects to deliver the first 777X in late 2023.
“As previously announced, the combined 777/777X production rate is transitioning to two aircraft per month.”
The quarter saw Boeing secure orders for 100 737 aircraft from Southwest Airlines, 25 737 aircraft from United Airlines, 23 737 aircraft from Alaska Airlines, and four 747 freighter aircraft from Atlas Air.
It delivered 77 aircraft during the quarter and still boasts a backlog of over 4,000 aircraft valued at $US283 billion.