Pittsburgh: In a sign of the desperate lows characterizing the commercial aircraft manufacturing sector Chicago-headquartered Boeing Co has reported sharply lower monthly orders for jetliners with global recessionary trends compelling airlines to reduce flights and cancel orders. Boeing confirmed it had received orders for just six passenger and freight jets in March.
This is down from 99 during the same month last year. Orders for the first two months of 2009 have fallen 88 per cent year-over-year.
The manufacturing sector has been hit by a combination of factors. A global economic slowdown has seen air travel slump. This, in turn, has forced carriers to cut flights, delay orders and deliveries of new jets. A deepening credit crisis has made it more difficult for buyers to access loans for new aircraft.
In the first three months of the year, Boeing has received a meager order for 28 planes, but with 32 cancellations it has suffered a net loss of four. The cancellations are for the long-overdue 787, a next-generation aircraft built with lightweight composite parts.
Weak traffic has dampened enthusiasm amongst airlines for placing new jet orders. Instead, capacity has been ruthlessly slashed and planes grounded.
According to analysts, though Boeing has a huge backlog of orders it is likely that airlines may back out of those orders. Industry experts predict that Boeing will likely scrape through 2009, but will see production rates fall in 2010
Boeing has already announced plans to cut 10,000 jobs after reporting a surprise fourth-quarter loss.
On the positive side Boeing also said it had delivered 121 commercial aircraft in the first three months of 2009, which was up 5 per cent from the first quarter of last year. Fifty of those deliveries occurred in March alone.
The company has said it expects to fulfill deliveries scheduled for the year. It has also said it may provide about $1 billion in financing to customers.