Boeing plans to boost 737 Max production to 38 planes per month despite manufacturing snag

Boeing said Wednesday it will increase output of 737 Max planes to 38 a month later this year, up from 31 a month. Read more...

A Boeing 737 Max is displayed during the Farnborough Airshow, in Farnborough, on July 18, 2022. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Justin Tallis | AFP | Getty Images

Boeing said Wednesday it plans to increase output of 737 Max planes to 38 a month from 31 later this year, despite a manufacturing issue affecting some aircraft.

That production rate would be the highest in years for the bestselling aircraft and comes as Boeing seeks to get planes to airlines faster as those customers capitalize on a rebound in air travel. The company expects to deliver between 400 and 450 of its 737 planes this year.

“This is an important year for us,” Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said in a staff memo Wednesday. “As demand surges across our markets, we must focus together on execution and meeting our customer commitments.”

Boeing is also planning to raise output of the 787 Dreamliner to five planes a month late this year from a current rate of three.

Aircraft demand and stronger deliveries boosted Boeing’s revenue in the first quarter with sales up 28% year over year. The company narrowed its net loss to $425 million, or 69 cents per share, from a year-earlier net loss of $1.24 billion, or $2.06 per share.

Revenue in Boeing’s commercial airplane unit rose 60% in the first quarter to $6.7 billion as deliveries of new aircraft picked up, but the company said it was partially offset by 787 Dreamliner customer compensation for delivery delays. It said a negative operating margin of 9.2% in the unit was tied to abnormal costs and research and development expenses.

Boeing shares were up nearly 4% in morning trading after reporting results.

Here’s how Boeing performed during the period ended March 31, compared with Refinitiv consensus estimates

  • Adjusted loss per share: $1.27 vs. $1.07
  • Revenue: $17.92 billion vs. $17.57 billion

Adjusting for special items, Boeing lost $440 million, or $1.27 per share, compared with a year-ago net loss of $1.44 billion, or $2.75 per share. The company reported a $245 million pretax charge on the company’s KC-46A Tanker program tied to supplier issues.

On Tuesday, major aircraft suppliers General Electric and Raytheon Technologies reported higher revenue in their engine units and an increase in repair shop visits and spare parts businesses.

Boeing executives have said they would only raise output when they were confident in their supply chain, which has faced several snags after a host of layoffs and production declines during the Covid pandemic.

Earlier this month, the company disclosed a problem with two of eight fittings in a section of fuselage on certain 737 Max planes, its bestseller. Boeing had warned that the issue would slow deliveries of some aircraft.

The pace of deliveries is key to its cash flow goals since customers pay for the bulk of the planes upon delivery. Boeing on Wednesday reiterated it expects to reach adjusted free cash flow for the year of between $3 billion and $5 billion.

Boeing executives are scheduled to discuss results on a 10:30 a.m. ET call Wednesday.

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