20210115_Airbus_Boeing_IBT Total net orders of Airbus and Boeing airliners from 2014 through 2020* Photo: Statista/IBT

Both Boeing and Airbus have released order and delivery figures for 2020 that reveal a sharp deterioration in the fortunes of both manufacturers as the pandemic continues to massively impede air travel across the globe. Boeing endured an even more nightmarish 2020 due to its ongoing woes with the 737 Max on top of the chaos caused by Covid-19. It received gross orders for 184 jets, down 25 percent in 2019 and its lowest number since 1994.

Its net order book has now plunged into negative territory and stood at -1,026 by the end of 2020 when stricter accounting standards are factored in that take into account cancellations and conversions. The 737 Max was grounded for 20 months up to November 2020 and buyers canceled orders for 641 aircraft while another 523 look unlikely to be filled. It is thought that many Max customers utilized contract clauses that allowed them to cancel their orders when the delivery was delayed for a year or more. Boeing delivered 157 aircraft in 2020, a 59 percent year-on-year decline.

Even though Airbus weathered the storm better than its North American competitor, it was still badly affected by the crisis with its net orders falling from 868 in 2019 to 268 in 2020. Deliveries were better than expected, however, at 566. Boeing and Airbus delivered a collective 723 aircraft to customers in 2020, a figure that is down 42 percent on 2019. The outlook for 2021 looks grim for plane-makers with Covid-19 cases soaring around the world but the return of the Max will provide a welcome boost for Boeing nonetheless.