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Boeing 2021 deliveries surged, led by return of 737 Max, but were still behind Airbus

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FAA chief Steve Dickson flies a Boeing 737 MAX, from Boeing Field on September 30, 2020 in Seattle, Washington.
Mike Siegel | Getty Images

Boeing‘s sales and deliveries of new planes surged last year as customers looked beyond the Covid pandemic‘s toll on travel demand, but the manufacturer still ended 2021 behind chief rival Airbus.

Boeing handed over 340 jetliners to airlines and other buyers, up from 157 in 2020, it said Tuesday. The company’s shares rose after the numbers were released, trading up 2.4% at 12:15 p.m. ET.

The deliveries were led largely by the 737 Max, which regulators worldwide had grounded for nearly two years after a fatal crash in 2018 and another in 2019. Airbus said Monday that it delivered 611 planes last year, up 8% from 2020.

The increase in deliveries was welcome news for Boeing, which has struggled in the wake of the crashes, the pandemic and manufacturing issues that have paused handovers to customers of its 787 Dreamliners for much of the past 14 months.

Chicago-based Boeing logged 909 gross orders for jets, more than 700 for the Max, including at least 50 for budget carrier and Airbus operator Allegiant. Sales of freighters were another bright spot, thanks to a surge in e-commerce demand and air freight with Boeing adding orders from UPS, Atlas Air and FedEx.

That topped Airbus’ 771 gross commercial orders in 2021. Including cancellations, Boeing’s net orders totaled 479 but that rose to 535, including accounting adjustments, which adds or subtracts sales based on airline financial health or other factors.

Boeing is scheduled to report fourth-quarter and full-year results before the market opens on Jan. 26.

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