As is confirmed by the results of aircraft deliveries and orders from the second quarter of 2020, production and sales of commercial aircraft by industry giants Boeing and Airbus shrank dramatically in comparison with 2019. Yet one is faring better than the other.

On the surface, their performances for the quarter mirror each other: Airbus delivered 14 aircraft in April, 24 in May and 36 in June, displaying a modest but steady rise. Boeing’s deliveries dropped from 6 in April to 4 in May, but rose to 10 in June. Gross orders are similarly miniscule: customers ordered 9 Airbus aircraft in April and none in May and June; Boeing had no orders in April but 9 in May and 1 in June. 

All in all, this represents 67% drop in deliveries for Airbus and 78% for Boeing in comparison with the second quarter of 2019, unsurprising result for an industry ravaged by COVID-19 pandemic.

But the net orders tell a different story. While Airbus reported just one cancellation this quarter, Boeing had 186, almost all of them 737 MAX. Adding orders and cancelations from the first quarter, Boeing finishes the first half of 2020 with -323 net new orders, owing to 382 cancellations. Airbus net orders for the same period is positive 298.

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As a result of the pandemic, the prolonged grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX became a blessing in disguise for airlines. However, as it is set to return soon, the narrow-body might become a headache for airlines once again.
 

Furthermore, although Boeing had 10 new commercial aircraft orders in the second quarter, all of them were 767 and 777 freighters ordered by various delivery companies. It seems, a market for Boeing passenger jets is running dry. 

While the blame for shrinking deliveries can be attributed to COVID-19 shutdown, it is the second massive problem Boeing is dealing with, the first being the 737 MAX disaster. In this light Airbus’ mere semblance of return to normality looks rather like a positive result. 

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With the coronavirus pandemic affecting the aviation industry and setting the demand for new aircraft at a record low, Airbus and Boeing find themselves in an unprecedented crisis. The financial impact has hit both manufacturers that are forced to burn through their cash to keep their supply lines active.