Although the entire aviation industry was struck by COVID-19 pandemic like never before, the aircraft manufacturers were impacted twice: both through production stoppages and the loss of customers. Charting the survival of the two giants through this period tells a story of desperation and confusion.

The comparison is tainted by an external force – that of Boeing’s 737 MAX. COVID-19 was a second disaster to strike American manufacturer in a very short time, as it did not recover from the results of the world-wide grounding of its bestseller. 

Read more: Boeing versus Airbus: a graphic tale of two disasters

Come February, Boeing’s orders were almost dry in comparison with previous years. Airbus, on the other hand, just had their best year yet, and in January received 296 new orders – a number so high, we had to exclude the entire month from the diagram, as it would make other bars barely distinguishable.

March was the month of the harshest world-wide travel restrictions. Both Airbus and Boeing had sizable number of new orders in March, possibly carried by pre-crisis momentum, but the cancellations were high as well. Airbus’ cancelations were almost as high as the new orders; all of Boeing’s 150 cancelled aircraft were MAXes.

The deliveries hit rock bottom in April, as both Boeing’s and Airbus’ manufacturing facilities were paralyzed in March. And although Airbus began to recover right away, reaching pre-crisis levels of released aircraft in July, Boeing had no such luck.

Nevertheless, a slimmer of hope shines for Boeing – cancellations, a bulk of which was comprised of 737MAX, were steadily dropping since March. As un-grounding of the much-troubled aircraft neared, the company even registered the renewal of its orders in August.