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The order battle between Boeing (NYSE:BA) and Airbus (OTCPK:EADSF) (OTCPK:EADSY) is one way for the companies to flex their muscles, next to marketing their respective products as the best solution with the highest fuel efficiency and passenger comfort. Even though the orders (in terms of value) are in no way a reflection of financial performance, it’s important to have a look at the order inflow. That’s because the order tallies give a nice impression of which manufacturer has the best mix of discount, comfort, slot availability, and efficiency, and they give an idea of the overall health of the aircraft market and appetite for new aircraft.

With the COVID-19 crisis hitting the travel market hard, Airbus and Boeing are facing an unprecedented crisis. At times like these, it is important to keep an eye on orders, deliveries and cancellations. This piece is part of our order and deliveries series on Boeing and Airbus and I will be adding a quarterly overview as well to see how aircraft sales have evolved. On top of that, I have bolstered the data side of The Aerospace Forum which allows subscribers to slice order and deliveries by region, customer, aircraft type and more to get detailed visualizations of the current state of the market.

In this report, AeroAnalysis will look at the order inflow in March for both manufacturers and their role in the narrow- and wide-body markets.

Note from Author: These are extremely challenging times to cover the aerospace industry as we are dealing with a crisis (COVID-19) on top of another one (Boeing 737 MAX). Since October 2018, we have set up dedicated coverage of the Boeing 737 MAX crisis next to our regular coverage such as monthly order and delivery overviews. With the added complexity of COVID-19, maintaining timely coverage is challenging, and I hope that readers understand that I continue to put all efforts into providing coverage as fast as possible, but given the added workload and not to overflow the system, I have to prioritize certain reports and delay others. For those interested in the timeliest content, I’d recommend joining the free trial for The Aerospace Forum.

Overview Boeing and Airbus orders for March 2020

Airbus and Boeing together received 91 gross orders in March compared to 102 orders in the same month last year. Airbus booked 60 orders during the month versus 31 for Boeing, so you could mark the European jet maker as the winner of the monthly order battle, though given the current market environment, there is little reason to cheer. On dollar value, the tallies for the month were more or less even.

Boeing and Airbus March orders - Boeing 787-9

Source: Air Lease Corporation

During the month of March, Boeing received 31 orders valued at $4.3B:

  • All Nippon Airways ordered 11 Boeing 787-10s and one Boeing 787-9.
  • New Zealand ordered four Boeing P-8 Poseidons.
  • The US Navy ordered eight Boeing P-8 Poseidons.
  • South Korea ordered six Boeing P-8 Poseidons.
  • FedEx (NYSE:FDX) ordered one Boeing 767-300F.

The full report on Boeing’s orders and deliveries as well as conversions and customer reveals in March can be read here.

Boeing and Airbus March orders - Airbus A321neo

Source: Air Lease Corporation

During the month of March, Airbus received 60 orders valued at $4.4B:

  • AerCap (AER) ordered 50 Airbus A320neo family aircraft, 25 Airbus A320neos and 25 Airbus A321neos.
  • An unidentified customer ordered 10 Airbus A350-900 aircraft; possibly this order belongs to Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL).

The full report on Airbus’s orders and deliveries as well as conversions and customer reveals in March can be read here.

Overview year to date orders Boeing and Airbus

Airbus and Boeing March 2020 orders

Figure 1: Infographic March 2020 (Source: AeroAnalysis Data Visualizations)


In March, Airbus received 60 orders and 44 cancellations, leaving the jet maker with 16 net orders for the month. Boeing received 31 orders and 150 cancellations, bringing the net orders for the month to -119. Year-to-date net orders are 290 for Airbus and -147 for Boeing. Airbus saw orders in excess of cancellations which is a tiny bright spot given the current crisis but net orders were still down 25 units year-over-year for March. Somewhat surprising year-to-date net orders are 358 units higher. Boeing is basically getting what it can get, and that’s not a lot at the moment. The company saw net orders of -119 units versus -32 units last year and year-to-date numbers show net orders dropping from 16 units to -147 units. So, the combination of the MAX crisis and COVID-19 is hitting Boeing hard.

Boeing and Airbus March orders: Significant decline

February didn’t include a huge impact from COVID-19 for either jet maker but March showed an acceleration in cancellations, primarily on Boeing’s side which is related to the Boeing 737 MAX but COVID-19 also plays a role as it provides the final push for cancellations.

In the January order overviews, I noted the following:

The longer COVID-19 stays around, the more likely it’s going to affect the order books and delivery profiles.

We are now seeing Boeing taking the first big hit, but also Airbus could start suffering the pains of this unprecedented crisis. Airbus seems to be positioned just slightly better, but a crisis as we are seeing now… that’s something neither jet maker had prepared for. In a matter of weeks, we went from “this will pass” (which is true) to “this will affect the industry in 2020 and beyond.” The coming months are going to be interesting as we likely are seeing the start of the end of the order boom for jet makers with the focus shifting to containing cancellations.

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