Boeing deliveries halved in first 11 months of 2019

(Reuters) - Boeing Co BA.N delivered less than half as many planes in the first 11 months of 2019 as in the same period a year earlier, the planemaker said on Tuesday, as it continued to struggle with the grounding of its best-selling 737 MAX jets.

FILE PHOTO: A Boeing logo pictured during the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) at Geneva Airport, Switzerland, May 28, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

Deliveries totaled 345 aircraft in the 11 months ended November, compared to 704 last year and were also less than half the number delivered by European rival Airbus in the same period.

Customers typically pay over the bulk of the money for a new jetliner on delivery, making it a crucial metric for the world’s big two jetliner producers.

The company did see a boost in orders around last month’s Dubai airshow, bringing the number of orders net of cancellations or conversions this year to 56 at the end of November from 45 a month earlier.

After an accounting adjustment, Boeing’s net total for orders this year improved marginally to -84 airplanes from -95 a month earlier.

The orders included what Boeing called a “conversion” by China Aircraft Leasing Group of 8 MAX orders into two 787 Dreamliners.

The company also said it had booked 30 orders for the 737 MAX aircraft, including an order for 10 Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes from Turkey's SunExpress THYAO.IS and another 20 MAX planes from another unidentified customer. Reuters had reported last month that an unnamed airline had signed a firm order for 10 Boeing 737 MAX 7 planes and 10 Boeing MAX 10s.

(GRAPHIC: Boeing deliveries halved through November - )

The 737 MAX has been grounded since March after two fatal crashes that killed 346 people. Federal officials say the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is not expected to authorize the plane to fly until January at the earliest, citing a number of steps yet to be completed.

Boeing is racing to complete a software upgrade and complementary training protocols required to return the 737 MAX to commercial service.

Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru and Eric Johnson in Seattle; editing by Patrick Graham and Shailesh Kuber