Boeing is facing additional uncertainty over future production rates for its 787 Dreamliner after Russian carrier Aeroflot formally cancelled an order for 22 aircraft valued at about $5.5 billion.
The cancellation is the final step in unwinding an order that had been shrouded in uncertainty ever since the airline said in 2015 it no longer needed the planes.
The lost business theoretically knocks a hole in the production profile for the 787 Dreamliner after the world’s largest planemaker increased its build-rate to 14 aircraft per month from 12 at twin U.S. factories.
Barring new orders, Boeing faces the growing possibility that it may have to cut production back by 2022, industry sources say, piling on new pressure as the grounding of the smaller 737 MAX stretches into its eighth month.
One of the sources, who closely monitors Boeing’s production plans, quoted by Reuters as saying the planemaker has dozens of unsold or potentially vacant 787 positions on its production line in 2022.
In another development, Southwest Airlines Co and Brazil’s Gol Linhas Aereas said on Wednesday they had grounded a total of 13 Boeing Co 737 NG airplanes after U.S. regulators ordered urgent inspections last week.
Southwest said it had grounded two planes, while Gol said it had grounded 11. Both airlines are major operators of the 737, including the NG variant and the more recent MAX, which has been grounded for months after two deadly crashes.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration last week told aircraft operators to inspect 165 Boeing 737 NG airliners for structural cracks within seven days after the issue was found on a small number of planes. Nearly all the 165 planes were Southwest aircraft, officials said.