Deep Red Sea: Boeing losses mount as 737 MAX crisis continues
Further financial liquidity is, reportedly, guaranteed by a $12 billion loan that Boeing secured on January 28, 2020. The company faces a difficult year in terms of net spend: without including the 737 MAX production restart, Boeing also aims to complete its tie-up with Embraer, which the Brazilian regulators approved on January 28, 2020. It still faces the hurdle of receiving the stamp of approval from the European Commission: the judgment day for that decision is set for April 6, 2020.
However, the manufacturer expects 2020 to be much more difficult in terms of cash flow. "Primarily due to the fact that MAX advance payments will be lower than in 2019 based on our latest 737 delivery assumptions," states Greg Smith, the Chief Financial Officer of the company.
According to the manufacturer, the suspense of production and the following restart of the grounded jet will result in $4 billion of “abnormal production costs that will be expensed as incurred, primarily in 2020.” Production of the aircraft will resume before the groundings lift, something that is a "risk mitigator," indicates the CFO. The production line will be slowly brought up in "a very methodical way" to ensure the stability of the production.
An updated projection indicates that the whole 737 MAX debacle will cost Boeing $18.4 billion.
Dreamliner production reduction
While its cash-cow, the 737 MAX has stayed on the ground since March 2019 after the second fatal crash of Ethiopia Airlines Flight ET302, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was by far the most popular product from the manufacturer throughout 2019, as it delivered 158 units to airlines out of the total 380 deliveries.
Worryingly, the demand for the Dreamliner is also dropping: the production rate of the aircraft will be reduced from 14 per month to 12 per month in late-2020, with a further reduction in early-2021 to 10 per month. It will be once again increased to 12 per month in 2023. The reduction in demand is mostly associated with the China-U.S. trade war that has resulted in Boeing receiving zero orders from Chinese carriers since November 6, 2017, when Juneyao Air ordered one Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Out of the total 1485 orders for the Dreamliner, Chinese carriers account for 109 aircraft or 7% of the total demand. A further 56 787s are associated with Unidentified Customers.
During Boeing's conference call, the manufacturer's executives stated that it would be a "major stimulus" once "Chinese customers come back" as China and the United States conclude their trade deal negotiations. "There's no reason to believe" that an order from a Chinese company needs to wait for Phase Two of the deal between the two countries, noted Calhoun.
Whether the New Midsize Airplane (NMA) is a go-ahead and is currently needed in the market, Calhoun stated that he does not believe Boeing has gaps in its product offerings, but he will "simply listen to customers and markets."
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