Nicolas Jouan, Aerospace and Defense Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view on the situation:

“Bad news keeps coming Boeing’s way. Despite its poor order and delivery figures in May – with, without surprise, the worst affected being the B737 MAX – the company is still formally planning on a return to flight this year for the fuel-efficient version of its bestselling narrow-body, but the accumulation of client withdrawal dampens the chance of seeing the plane bounce back.

“Air travel will take years to fully recover from the COVID-19 outbreak, and questions remain on which new safety rules will be implemented by airlines and how passengers will react. In relation to social distancing requirements, a case could be made for Airbus’ A321XLR, which combines long-range and lower-density cabins – an offer that Boeing has no product to rival with.

“The pandemic is not the sole cause of the MAX’s troubles. Early in the year, companies such as Air Canada and Air Lease Corporation cancelled orders in massive proportions without directly invoking COVID-19 disruptions, and last year’s grounding of the aircraft after two fatal crashes virtually froze Boeing’s single-aisle program. The company also recently abandoned a partnership with Embraer, suggesting a general lack of resources from the company to pour in commercial single-aisle.

“A Senate hearing will take place next week with the FAA to re-evaluate the grounding of the MAX. But whatever the result of this hearing, it is likely that many airlines and leasing companies will keep cutting B737 MAX order to slim down its fleet. The model still has over 4,200 unfilled orders in the backlog, but massive uncertainties concerning the potential recovery of air travel, and the shape it will take, will continue to trim off the MAX’s backlog.”