Boeing Commercial Plane Orders Plummet

Plane maker received orders for just six passenger and freight jets in March, down sharply from a year earlier when the company booked orders for 99 jetliners.

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Boeing Co. on Thursday reported another sharp decline in orders for passenger and freight jets, as the global economic slowdown batters demand for aircraft.

March orders for Boeing's commercial planes totaled six, down from 99 bookings in the same month last year, according to figures posted on the company's Web site and a company spokesman. In February, orders dropped to four from 125 a year earlier.

The Chicago-based aerospace giant has been hit by dramatically lower bookings this year as the recession deepens and air travel wanes. Airlines have cut flights and some carriers have delayed orders or deliveries of new jets. And the credit crisis has made it more difficult for potential buyers to get loans for new planes.

In the first three months of the year, Boeing received orders for 28 planes. But customers canceled or changed 32 orders during that period, resulting in a loss of four orders.

The canceled orders were for the long-awaited 787, a next-generation aircraft built with lightweight composite parts and designed for fuel efficiency.

Earlier Thursday, Boeing said it delivered 121 commercial aircraft in the first three months of 2009, up 5 percent from the first quarter of last year. Fifty of those deliveries occurred in March.

Executives have said the company expects to fulfill deliveries scheduled this year, and that demand for financing was expected to be minimal. Still, Boeing has said it would provide financing of about $1 billion to customers, if necessary.

Shares of Boeing rose $2.15, or 6.1 percent, to $37.60 in afternoon trading Thursday.

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