Updated from 3:46 p.m. EST
Despite its bulging current order book,
showed more signs Thursday that it is being impacted by the global recession.
The company said its orders fell 72% in January and also disclosed that it may slow production in 2010.
"Our 2009 financial guidance considers the risk that we might have to make modest production cuts starting in 2010," CFO James Bell told an investor conference.
It was the first time that Boeing has acknowledged the possibility of production cuts, said Scott Hamilton, publisher of an online newsletter that monitors aircraft manufacturers. "At last week's earnings call, Boeing was more ambiguous about this," Hamilton said.
As for January orders, Boeing said it received just 18, down from 65 a year earlier, according to a posting on its Web site.
In his presentation, Bell said that the "weakening global economy (is) adversely affecting air traffic growth" and that Boeing is taking steps to address the problem, including its plan, announced last week, to reduce its workforce by 6% or 10,000 positions during 2009.
Boeing has a backlog of $352 billion, or five times its annual revenue, including $279 billion in commercial aircraft orders. When the previous slowdown occurred, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the commercial-aircraft backlog was $83 billion, Bell said.
However, deferrals are increasing after eight cancellations and 110 deferrals in 2008, he said. While most of the 2008 deferrals were from U.S. carriers, who were quick to scale back growth in the face of high fuel costs, Boeing expects to see more foreign carriers scale back this year.
As an example of what is happening at airlines, even cargo airlines,
said Tuesday that it is reviewing whether to defer its aircraft deliveries. UPS is scheduled to take delivery this year of five aircraft -- three 747-400s and two 767-300s, including a 747 it agreed to defer from late 2008 due to the strike against Boeing by the International Association of Machinists. (UPS also agreed to defer a 767 delivery from 2009 to 2010.)
Asked whether UPS might push back aircraft deliveries, CFO Kurt CFO Kurt Kuehn responded: "If it makes sense to defer out, we'll certainly talk with Boeing and other providers." However, Kuehn also noted that UPS wants to replace its aging DC-8 fleet and that it has sufficient cash to pay for new airplanes.