Giant US aerospace and defence group Boeing has released its results for the full year of 2021 (plus those for the fourth quarter of that year). For the group as a whole, revenues for the year came to $62.3-billion (for the fourth quarter alone, $14.8-billion), which represented a 7% improvement over the 2020 figure of about $58.2-billion. The operating cash flow last year was minus $3.4-billion (but plus $0.7-billion for the fourth quarter). The equivalent figure for the year 2020 had been minus $18.4-billion. The group ended 2021 with a total order backlog worth $377-billion; during the year Boeing Commercial Airplanes had secured 535 net orders for airliners and freighter aircraft.
The year 2020 had of course marked the zenith of the Covid-19 pandemic. “2021 was a rebuilding year for us as we overcame hurdles and reached key milestones across our commercial, defence and services portfolios,” pointed out Boeing president and CEO David Calhoun.
For Boeing Commercial Airplanes, full-year revenues for last year had come to $19.5-billion, a 21% increase over the 2020 figure of $16.2-billion. Losses from operations during 2021 had, at $6.5-billion, been far less than those in 2020 ($13.9-billion). Last year’s operating margin has been minus 33.2%, but 2020’s had been minus 85.7%. The division had delivered 340 commercial aircraft in 2021, as against 157 in 2020.
Although the 737 MAX single-aisle airliner programme was getting back on track, with production now running at 26 a month and ramping up to 31 a month by early this year, the 787 Dreamliner wide body airliner programme was still suffering difficulties. Rework activities, required by the US Federal Aviation Administration before it would allow the company to resume deliveries to its customers, were taking longer than expected.
Boeing has had to take a pre-tax non-cash charge of $3.5-billion on the 787 programme. The aircraft was currently being assembled at a very low rate, and that status would be maintained until deliveries are allowed to restart, after which point production would be gradually ramped up to five aircraft a month. The group now expected to suffer from abnormal costs from the 787 programme that would increase to some $2-billion, with most of the hit being taken by the end of next year.
“We increased 737 MAX production and deliveries, and safely returned the 737 MAX to service in nearly all global markets,” highlighted Calhoun. “As the commercial market recovery gained traction, we also generated robust commercial orders, including record freighter sales. Demonstrating progress in our overall recovery, we also returned to generating positive cash flow in the fourth quarter. On the 787 programme, we’re progressing through a comprehensive effort to ensure every airplane in our production system conforms to our exacting specifications. While this continues to impact our near-term results, it is the right approach to building stability and predictability as demand returns for the long term. Across the enterprise, we remain focused on safety and quality as we deliver for our customers and invest in our people and in our sustainable future.”