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Boeing orders drop in recession

The net total was Boeing’s lowest since at least 2003 and just one-tenth of the 1413 orders in 2007.

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Meanwhile, Boeing delivered 481 commercial planes last year, up 28 per cent after a huge strike in 2008 slowed production. Boeing had predicted 480 to 485 deliveries for the year.

The deliveries were “a solid achievement”, wrote Jeffries & Co analyst Howard A. Rubel, an achievement he said was not adequately valued by investors.

Boeing delivered four more wide-bodies than he had expected and three fewer 737s. By delivering more of the higher-priced wide-bodies, as well as setting an annual record by delivering 88 of its 777s, “the results were a slightly richer mix than we had expected”.

The biggest seller was Boeing’s workhorse 737. The company delivered 372 of those last year, and has orders for a further 2076.

Boeing’s total backlog for all commercial aircraft is 3375 planes.

Delayed 787 launch

The big issue for Boeing has been its 787, a new wide-body long-range jet that flew for the first time last month – more than two years late. Boeing got through December without any additional 787 cancellations, and finished the year with 83 net cancellations.

Boeing said it has orders for 851 of the planes, and it expects to begin deliveries by the end of this year.

The company expects to provide commercial aircraft delivery guidance for 2010 on January 27, when it reports fourth-quarter financial results.

Competitor Airbus will report its 2009 orders and deliveries on Tuesday. Through the end of November it had 194 net orders and 437 deliveries. That included four of its new A380 super-jumbo jets and 22 of its wide-body A350s. Like Boeing, the bulk of its orders came from smaller, single-aisle planes.

Boeing shares rose $US2.23 or 3.7 per cent, to $US62.01 in afternoon trading.