By Doug Cameron
Boeing Co. delivered 18 jetliners in August, leaving the aerospace giant on track for its lowest annual total in eight years.
The plane maker said Tuesday that it delivered 276 planes through August compared with 481 at the same point in 2018, trailing analysts' revised estimates for about 500 deliveries in 2019. It handed over 64 planes in August 2018.
Deliveries were halted after two 737 MAX planes crashed within six months through March, leading regulators to ground the aircraft globally.
The MAX crisis interrupted a multiyear aerospace boom, prompting the cancellation of thousands of flights, denting airline profits and threatening jobs in Boeing's global supply chain.
Boeing has suspended financial guidance for the year and warned in July that it might slow or halt production of its 737 MAX jet if regulators don't approve its return to service by the end of this year.
Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg said at the time that while Boeing plans to continue producing 42 of its 737 jets a month, including the MAX, and to boost that rate to 57 next year, any slippage in the timeline for the return of the MAX could prompt the company to reduce output.
Most MAX operators such as Southwest Airlines Co. don't expect the plane to return to service until December or January. Some, such as Ryanair Holdings PLC, have already cut planned flying next summer because they don't expect to have sufficient planes.
"The only thing I can tell you this is uncharted territory," Steve Udvar-Házy, executive chairman of Air Lease Corp. said at an industry conference last week. The plane-rental giant has received 15 of the 165 MAX jets it has ordered.
Boeing shares were up 2.1% Tuesday at $366.16, while the S&P 500 was off 0.6%. The shares have traded within a narrow range in recent weeks, in part because analysts expect a surge in deliveries next year, while airlines continue to make progress payments to bolster the company's closely watched cash flow.
However, Brazil's Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes SA said last week that it had suspended deposit payments to Boeing. It has received seven of the 129 MAX jets it ordered. Boeing declined to comment on customer issues.
The company hasn't updated its July guidance for securing approval for the MAX to fly again early in the fourth quarter, allowing it to resume deliveries. But Boeing has yet to submit the required changes to the scrutiny of global regulators.
Mr. Muilenburg is due to update investors at an industry conference on Sept. 11.
Rival Airbus SE, which is set to overtake Boeing in terms of deliveries this year, shipped 42 planes in August, taking its year-to-date total to 500. Airbus has secured 95 orders so far this year, after cancellations.
Boeing booked nine orders last month, including two 737 business jets. It booked no MAX deals for the sixth month in succession, though it has 4,544in backlog.
The company has also suffered setbacks in other programs, with 787 output at its North Charleston, S.C., facility closed for four days last week because of Hurricane Dorian. Testing of its delayed 777X jet has also been interrupted after a testing failure last week. Boeing said Tuesday that the problem wouldn't have a significant impact on its testing or delivery schedule.
Write to Doug Cameron at email@example.com