US plane maker Boeing reported its fourth straight quarterly loss on Wednesday as the coronavirus pandemic and the grounding of the troubled 737 MAX hurt the company’s sales.
Free cash outflow rose to $5.08 billion in the quarter, from $2.89 billion, a year earlier. Total debt surged to $61 billion, from $19.2 billion. Excluding items, Boeing lost $1.39 per share, less than Wall Street’s average expectation of a loss of $2.52 per share, according to IBES estimates from Refinitiv. Revenue fell 29 percent to $14.14 billion, topping analyst estimates of $13.90 billion.
Boeing’s CEO Dave Calhoun told employees that the company now expects to eliminate some 30,000 jobs by next year’s end through buyouts, layoffs and attrition. That’s nearly double what the firm initially planned for its global workforce of around 130,000.
Reaffirming its expectation that US deliveries of the 737 MAX jet would resume before year-end, Boeing said it was sticking with the deeply reduced twin-aisle production rates announced in July, as well as the goal to hit a build rate of 31 narrow-bodies monthly in early 2022.
The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to lift its March 2019 grounding order on the 737 MAX as soon as next month, pending approval of software and training changes. That means the jet could return to service in 2021.
Earlier this month, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) declared the 737 MAX aircraft safe to fly, announcing that the grounded aircraft could return to the region’s skies before the end of the year.
READ MORE: Europe’s aviation regulator says Boeing’s troubled 737 MAX is safe to fly again, but US’ FAA holds back on decision
Once Boeing’s best-selling passenger plane, the 737 MAX is now apparently being rebranded as the 737-8. The aircraft has been grounded for over a year, after two fatal crashes less than six months apart in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people. In both cases, new flight control software caused the aircraft to unexpectedly nosedive shortly after takeoff.
The tragic incidents prompted widespread concerns over technical flaws and quality control at Boeing, as well as appropriate training for pilots to fly the 737 MAX. US lawmakers investigating the company last year accused it of concealing information about the aircraft from regulators during the approval process.
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