Boeing continues to lose out to rival Airbus in terms of aircraft deliveries after the US planemaker has been faced with another manufacturing defect impacting its ability to deliver the 737 MAX to customers.
The trend has continued since June 2023, when both manufacturers pushed hard to end Q2 and H1 with as many aircraft deliveries as possible. Airbus and Boeing’s delivery numbers dropped off in July 2023, with the pair delivering 65 and 43 aircraft, respectively. In June 2023, Airbus handed over 72 aircraft, while Boeing delivered 60 jets to its customers.
737 MAX production woes
However, in August 2023, Spirit AeroSystems, which supplies Boeing with the fuselages for the 737 MAX as well as P-8 Poseidon, a 737 NextGeneration (NG) military derivative, identified another problem in the manufacturing process.
On August 23, 2023, Spirit AeroSystems released a statement saying that the company was “aware of a quality issue involving elongated fastener holes on the aft pressure bulkhead on certain models of the 737 fuselage”.
The problem only affected some fuselage units, as the company uses several different suppliers. However, Boeing’s chief financial officer and executive vice president of finance, Brian West, admitted that the issue “will impact deliveries” of the 737 MAX when he spoke at the Jefferies Industrials Conference in September 2023.
As such, the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) handed over 22 737 MAX aircraft, with no P-8 Poseidons in August 2023. A month prior, it had delivered 32 737 MAX and one P-8 Poseidon.
During August 2023, Boeing delivered 13 other aircraft, including three KC-46A tankers to the United States Air Force (USAF), as well as four freighters to FedEx: two 767F and two 777Fs. Passenger aircraft deliveries included five 787s: one 787-8 to Japan Airlines, one 787-9 to Qatar Airways, one 787-9 to Turkish Airlines, one 787-10 to EVA Air, and one 787-10 to SAUDIA.
In total, Boeing delivered 35 aircraft to its customers in August 2023.
Commercially, Boeing’s order numbers stayed relatively stable, with a total of 45 orders for its aircraft, namely 737 MAXs (38 total orders) and 787s (seven total orders). The seven 787s, split between two 787-8s and five 787-9s, were assigned to an unidentified customer, while the 38 737 MAXs were ordered by two aircraft lessors, SMBC Aviation Capital (25 aircraft) and Aviation Capital Group (13 aircraft).
In July 2023, customers ordered 52 Boeing aircraft, with the OEM booking SAUDIA’s order of 39 787s from March 2023.
Airbus’ delivery slump
While Airbus did beat its main rival in both orders and deliveries in August 2023, the European OEM’s delivery numbers dipped when compared to July 2023.
In total, Airbus delivered 52 aircraft during August 2023, around half of which were A321neos (24 units). The remaining single-aisle deliveries included seven A220-300s and 17 A320neos. Notably, the planemaker also handed over one A319neo to Tibet Airlines, reducing the already small backlog to 46 aircraft.
Twin-aisle deliveries included one Airbus A330-900neo to ITA Airways, delivered on lease from Air Lease Corporation (ALC), one A350-900 to Air China, and one A350-1000 to British Airways.
In July 2023, the planemaker delivered 65 aircraft, including 17 A320neo and 31 A321neos.
During August 2023, Airbus received a major boost to its order book when Wizz Air ordered 75 A321neo aircraft. Another undisclosed customer ordered 12 A321neos.
More importantly, three customers ordered 28 A330-900neos, an aircraft that Airbus has struggled to sell since its inception, with a total of 311 orders for the type. The number excludes two A330-900neos delivered to Air Belgium via Airbus Financial Services, the manufacturer’s Orders and Deliveries filings noted.
And only Air Algerie, which also ordered five A330-900neos, ordered two A350-1000 aircraft. The Algerian airline announced the order in June 2023, with the manufacturer adding it to its backlog only now.
In total, Airbus’ order backlog grew by 117 aircraft in August 2023, compared to 60 aircraft in July 2023.