Boeing said on Tuesday that it received 79 new orders for planes in December, capping its best year of sales since 2018 as it tried to move past a prolonged crisis caused by two crashes of the 737 Max jet.
The company sold a net 535 new planes last year after factoring in cancellations, a big turnaround from 2020 when cancellations exceeded new sales by 471 planes and just ahead of its chief rival, Airbus, the European aviation giant. But Boeing delivered 340 aircraft to customers, far fewer than Airbus.
In addition to the Max crisis, the company’s performance has also been dented by quality concerns about its 787 Dreamliner that forced Boeing to slow production and suspend deliveries of that plane.
About two-thirds of the planes sold last year were variants of the Max, which regulators around the world grounded for nearly two years after the crashes, which killed a total of 346 people. Boeing’s December orders included the sale of 50 Max jets to Allegiant Air in what amounted to a big shift by the budget airline, which typically buys used planes.
Since the Federal Aviation Administration allowed the Max to fly again in late 2020, the plane has been used for just over 300,000 flights carrying paying passengers, with about 475 of the planes in circulation, the company said.
Boeing also sold a record 84 freighter planes last year, reflecting strong demand for air cargo. At the start of this year, the company had 4,250 orders in its backlog, about 80 percent of which are for the Max.
Airbus, which is based in France, said on Monday that it sold 507 planes last year and delivered more than 600. It has an order backlog of 7,082 planes.