Boeing said Wednesday that it lost $561 million in the first three months of the year as it emerged from its prolonged 737 Max crisis and contended with new problems related to the 787 Dreamliner jet. Revenue fell 10 percent to $15.2 billion compared with the same period last year.
But, like his counterparts at major airlines, Dave Calhoun, Boeing’s chief executive, struck an optimistic tone.
“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,” he said in a statement.
In an investor presentation, Boeing said it continued to expect the recovery to take years to unfold, with passenger traffic unlikely to return to 2019 levels until 2023 or 2024. It also said its financial results for this year “hinge” on a recovery in the commercial airplane market.
At the end of March, the company had a backlog of more than 4,000 commercial airplane orders, valued at $283 billion. Its defense and space backlog was valued at $61 billion.
The company’s results were weighed down by quality concerns with the 787, though deliveries of the plane resumed at the end of the quarter “following comprehensive reviews,” Boeing said in a statement. The company also suffered a $318 million charge related to development of the next Air Force One, which was affected by a pandemic slowdown and problems with a key supplier, which Boeing recently sued.
It was also the first full quarter since the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision in November to lift its ban on the 737 Max, which had been grounded globally nearly two years following two fatal crashes in which hundreds were killed.
Since the ban was lifted, Boeing has delivered more than 85 Max’s to customers worldwide. It also reported that it sold more planes than were canceled in February and March, its first months of positive sales in more than year. Nearly two dozen airlines have put the plane back into service on more than 26,000 flights, Boeing said.
Mr. Calhoun also provided an update on an electrical concern with some Max planes that was disclosed this month. The F.A.A. has said the issue could affect the operation of a backup power control unit in 106 planes worldwide, all of which have been grounded. Boeing is working with the agency on a fix that should take a “few days per airplane” once approved, Mr. Calhoun said in a letter to staff.
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