Flying low

Posted on 23 Apr 2009 by The Manufacturer

Chicago based plane maker Boeing has revealed a 50 per cent drop in first-quarter profits.

The aircraft giant made $610m in Q1 of 2009 compared with $1.21bn in the same period of 2008. The firm is struggling with a lack of demand for new planes owing to falling flight numbers and a loss of market share to European rival Airbus.

Airbus took 777 orders for new planes in 2008 while Boeing took 682.

“The expanded global economic downturn is presenting unprecedented challenges in our commercial airplane markets,” said Jim McNerney, Boeing chairman and chief executive.

But the situation is not entirely bleak, according to McNerney. “We believe we are better positioned than most companies to withstand the ongoing pressures of this economy, and we are not hesitating to take necessary actions to provide our financial strength and maintain our ability to invest and grow for the long term,” he said.

The company did in fact make 6 more deliveries of commercial airplanes in Q1 this year compared with the first three months of 2008 – 121 from 115. Revenues too were up by about $500m to $16.5bn. However, haven taken another 28 forward orders of commercial planes in the quarter, it cancelled 32 other ones by mutual consent. Airbus took 22 orders in Q1 but only lost 14.

Boeing was rocked by lengthy industrial action at its plants in the second half of last year which meant delivery of its new 787 Dreamliner plane has had to be put back to next year. It said it has now taken orders for 886 of the planes from 57 different airlines.

The company reaffirmed its 2009 revenue expectations of $68-$69bn.

Boeing plans to make 10,000 people redundant this year – a figure that equates to roughly six per cent of its global workforce.