Boeing accelerated the pace of commercial plane deliveries in the fourth quarter, but again lagged arch-rival Airbus for all of 2022, according to company data released Tuesday.
The US aviation giant delivered 152 planes in the October to December period, bringing its total last year to 480 — up more than 40 percent from 2021.
This is highest number since 2018, when Boeing delivered 806 planes before it was rocked by crises over the 737 MAX, when two fatal crashes and a massive travel downturn due to Covid-19 sent orders plunging.
Boeing has badly lagged Airbus in deliveries in recent years, and in 2022 it once again fell short of the European planemaker, which said Tuesday it had delivered 661 planes to airlines and other clients last year.
Deliveries are closely monitored by Wall Street because they are tied to company revenues.
When Boeing last reported quarterly earnings in October, it still had hundreds of planes in inventory, including its best-selling models, the 737 MAX and 787 Dreamliner, both of which have suffered from lengthy periods of halted deliveries in recent years.
In the fourth quarter, Boeing delivered 110 of the 737 planes, the most of any quarter in 2022.
The inventory has included MAX planes originally built for carriers in China, the only major market where the jet has not resumed service. Boeing has said it is seeking to redirect the planes to other consumers.
Boeing also halted deliveries of the 787 for more than a year while it addressed production problems.
But they resumed after a lengthy review with US air safety regulators, with 31 planes going to customers in 2022, including 22 in the fourth quarter.
Boeing also announced some significant new orders in the fourth quarter on Tuesday, including an agreement with United Airlines to add 100 units of 787 planes in a sign of strengthening demand for long-haul transport amid the travel recovery.
In all, Boeing had 808 orders last year, net of cancelations.
Boeing has signaled that it expects to return to a period of more robust financial performance in the 2025 to 2026 timeframe, with free cash flow reaching $10 billion in that period.
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