(Corrects paragraph 2 to say total orders, not net orders)
April 9 (Reuters) - Boeing Co said on Tuesday orders nearly halved in the first quarter and the planemaker handed over far fewer aircraft, as it struggled with the worldwide grounding of its best-selling 737 MAX jets following two fatal crashes.
Total orders, an indication of future demand, fell to 95 aircraft in the first quarter from 180 a year earlier. There were no new MAX orders in March, the company said.
The fall in order suggests that airlines had adopted a wait-and-watch approach as Boeing looks to ride out the worst crisis in its history.
Deliveries of the 737 planes fell to 89 in the first quarter from 132 a year earlier. Eleven MAXs were delivered in March, compared with 26 in February.
Boeing froze deliveries of the aircraft after a global grounding of the narrowbody model following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet on March 10, killing all 157 people onboard.
The 737 MAX, a new variant of the 737 family, is central to Boeing’s future in its battle with European rival Airbus SE and the likely workhorse for global airlines for decades. (Reporting by Rachit Vats and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)