Boeing has posted a record full-year loss of $US11.9 billion ($15.6b) on a massive writedown of its 777X program and COVID-19 impacts on the aviation industry.
The result was also impacted by the grounding of the 737 MAX, with a further writedown of $US468 million.
The 777X pre-tax charge of $US6.5b has taken the industry by surprise, with Boeing saying it reflects discussions with customers for later deliveries and reduced demand as well as more complex certification standards.
The 400-seat 777X was to be first delivered in late 2019 but will now start deliveries in late 2023.
The net loss is a savage drop from last year’s net loss of $US636m.
Revenue was $US58.1b, down 24 per cent from $US76.5b in 2019.
On a brighter note, the 737 MAX has received regulatory approval to resume operations and restarted deliveries in the US, Brazil, Canada, and now Europe.
The company’s backlog is put at $US363b, with a commercial backlog of more than 4000 aircraft.
Boeing president and chief executive Dave Calhoun said 2020 had been a year of profound societal and global disruption which significantly constrained the aviation industry.
“The deep impact of the pandemic on commercial air travel, coupled with the 737 MAX grounding, challenged our results,” Mr Calhoun said.
“I am proud of the resilience and dedication our global team demonstrated in this environment as we strengthened our safety processes, adapted to our market, and supported our customers, suppliers, communities, and each other.
“Our balanced portfolio of diverse defence, space and services programs continues to provide important stability as we lay the foundation for our recovery. While the impact of COVID-19 presents continued challenges for commercial aerospace into 2021, we remain confident in our future, squarely focused on safety, quality, and transparency as we rebuild trust and transform our business.”
Since US regulators approved the return of the 737 MAX to operations, Boeing has delivered more than 40 aircraft and five airlines have returned their fleets to service as of January 25.
The delay in the 777X program is a major blow to Boeing and its suppliers as the company has orders for more than 300 of the aircraft. However, the aircraft seats more than 400, and in the COVID-19 world that sized aircraft is not wanted.
Another program in trouble is the top-selling 787 with production issues halting deliveries for more than three months.
Boeing has over the past 18 months slashed the production rate of the 787 from a top of 15 a month to just five.