Fresh blow for Boeing as China leasing firm scraps Max order

SINGAPORE • China Development Bank Financial Leasing Co Ltd cancelled an order for 29 Boeing Co 737 Max planes, worth at least US$2.9 billion (RM12.7 billion) based on list prices, joining a growing list of customers scaling back plans for buying the grounded jet.

The move cuts the company’s outstanding Max order to 70, it said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange yesterday. The 737 Max 10s still on order will be converted to smaller Max 8 aircraft, while the delivery of 20 jets will be deferred to between 2024 and 2026, the company said.

Boeing is working with regulators to clear a flying ban on the Max, which has been grounded worldwide since March 2019 following two fatal crashes. Earlier this month, leasing firm Avolon Holdings Ltd cancelled an US$8 billion deal for 75 jets, and General Electric Co’s aircraft-leasing division followed that last week when it cancelled an order worth at least US$6.9 billion for 69 undelivered jets.

The coronavirus pandemic is adding to Boeing’s woes as it crushes travel and demand for planes. CEO Dave Calhoun has said the company will face a “new reality” in a market that could take years to recover.

“Boeing will offer certain economic concessions that are intended to mitigate the effect of the amendments to the purchase agreements, in particular, the deferral of delivery dates,” the Chinese company said in its statement yesterday.

In a separate development, BOC Aviation Ltd said on Sunday it purchased six 787-9 and 16 Max 9 aircraft in a sale and leaseback agreement with United Airlines Holdings Inc. It didn’t disclose the value of the deal.

After suspending Max output in January, Boeing plans to slowly restart production of the narow-body model soon to stress-test its supply chain and avoid flooding the market with unneeded planes.

The company is also facing plunging demand for its wide-body aircraft, and at least US$19 billion in costs from the fallout of the Max accidents. Last month, Boeing drew down a US$13.8 billion loan to bolster reserves. — Bloomberg