Boeing Still Has Nearly $6bn In 737 MAX Customer Liabilities

Boeing’s ending balance at the end of the third quarter for 737 MAX customer concessions and other considerations liability stood at nearly $6 billion. Though not all of these liabilities are in cash, it is clear that the 737 MAX debacle is costing Boeing a pretty penny.

Boeing 737 MAX Getty
Boeing’s 737 MAX debacle is turning out to be very expensive for Boeing. Photo: Getty Images

Nearly $6bn in liabilities

In a stock exchange filing for the third quarter of 2020, Boeing noted it had $5.981 billion in 737 MAX customer concessions and other considerations liability during 2020. Much of this comes from Boeing’s compensation deal with customers over the 737 MAX grounding, which has stretched over 18 months at this point.

The liability total includes $1.6 billion that is expected to be liquidated by lower customer delivery payments. In essence, Boeing’s compensation deal with customers means they have to pay less upon delivery for certain MAX aircraft, which means a lower cash influx from these jets in the future.

737 MAX production
Approximately 450 MAX aircraft are awaiting delivery. Some of them don’t even have a home yet. Photo: Getty Images

In cash, Boeing expects $800 million to be paid in cash and another $200 million in other concessions. Breaking apart the cash payments, Boeing expects $200 million in payments to customers in 2020 and $400 million in 2021.

The remainder of the $3.4 billion will depend on the outcomes of negotiations with customers. Some airlines may choose to get some cash while others could go for lower predelivery or delivery payments.

Agreements with customers

Since the 737 MAX grounding began, Boeing’s customers have been negatively impacted by the aircraft being out of service. For airlines like American, Southwest, and United, this wreaked havoc on schedules for the busy summer season.

Customers then turned to Boeing looking for some compensation. Some factors that both the airline and Boeing weigh include considerations of reduced schedules, costs for leasing aircraft to make up for the lost capacity, and storage costs, among others.

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There are a lot of customers that Boeing has to negotiate with. Photo: Getty Images

Some airlines have already agreed to some form of compensation. Others, however, continue to have ongoing negotiations. With the end of the 737 MAX grounding in sight, Boeing is likely getting to the end of its customer negotiations and growing bill. One variable, however, is whatever costs Boeing needs to shoulder to fixing the MAX.

The end of the 737 MAX grounding is in sight

Global regulators, airlines, and Boeing believe the end of the 737 MAX grounding is near. Regulators have recently projected a sign of confidence in the aircraft getting ready to fly customers again.

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The Boeing 737 MAX has been undergoing rigorous scrutiny over the last few months. Photo: Getty Images

There is still, however, time until the MAX reenters commercial service. First and foremost, after regulators provide information about what needs to be fixed on the Boeing 737 MAX, maintenance personnel and Boeing will need time to prepare the Boeing 737 MAX for service. In addition, pilots will need to undergo any requisite training that regulators require.

Airlines will then need to make their own decisions about how they want to get the MAX back in service. Like American Airlines, some are planning customer tours of the aircraft; some may choose to do pilot test flights before ever flying passengers.

Are you surprised at Boeing’s outstanding 737 MAX liabilities? Let us know in the comments!


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