Boeing Co (NYSE:BA) reported its fourth straight quarterly loss on Wednesday as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and 737 MAX grounding continued to batter the planemaker’s sales.
Excluding items, Boeing lost $1.39 per share, albeit less than the average analysts’ expectation for a loss of $2.52 per share. Revenue fell 29% to $14.14 billion, but bettered analysts’ estimate of $13.90 billion.
The company’s free cash outflow rose to $5.08 billion in the quarter, from $2.89 billion, a year earlier, while total debt jumped to $61 billion, from $19.2 billion.
The NYSE-listed group reaffirmed its expectation that US deliveries of the 737 MAX jet, grounded for 19-months worldwide after two fatal accidents, would resume before year-end.
The US Federal Aviation Administration was expected to lift its March 2019 grounding order on the 737 MAX as soon as next month, pending approval of software and training changes, meaning the jet could return to service in 2021.
Boeing also said it was sticking with the deeply reduced twin-aisle production rates announced in July, as well as its goal to hit a build rate of 31 narrowbody jets monthly in early 2022.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought air travel to a near halt, pushing major airlines to the brink of bankruptcy and forcing them to seek government aid, cut costs and defer aircraft deliveries – when Boeing gets paid most of the money for new jets. Boeing estimates a full return to pre-pandemic levels in about three years, in line with other industry estimates.
The company said it expects to eliminate some 30,000 jobs through buyouts, layoffs and attrition – nearly double it initially planned – for a global workforce of around 130,000 by end-2021. It also announced a $67 million charge in the quarter on its KC-46 aerial refueling tanker program, which was attributed to COVID-19 disruptions and production issues.
Boeing shares were down 3.5% in early New York trading at $149.77.