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Geopolitics leads Boeing to downgrade dozens of jet orders

Elaine Thompson/AP
FILE - Traffic drives in view of a massive Boeing Co. production plant, where images of jets decorate the hangar doors, Friday, April 23, 2021, in Everett, Wash. Boeing says global geopolitical concerns are a big reason why it is dropping more than 100 planes from its backlog of pending orders. The company said Tuesday, April 12, 2022, that it cut its backlog by 141 planes, and about two-thirds of those are for what it termed geopolitical considerations including sanctions. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Boeing has removed 141 airplanes from its backlog of pending orders, many of them because of what it termed geopolitical considerations including restrictions on sales because of sanctions like those imposed on Russia for its war against Ukraine.

The big aircraft manufacturer said Tuesday it took 38 net new orders for planes in March, most of them single-aisle 737 Max jets. Air Lease Corp. placed an order for 32 Maxes.

Boeing removed 141 previously ordered planes from its backlog of more than 4,000 planes because accounting rules make it unclear whether the sale will be completed. Sometimes planes are removed from the backlog because of an order cancellation, other times because the buyer's financial problems place the deal in jeopardy.

This time, however, Boeing said that about two-thirds of the planes removed from the backlog resulted from geopolitical reasons including sanctions. It declined to identify the customers whose orders were, in effect, downgraded to questionable.

Boeing previously indicated that it had undelivered orders for 34 planes with Russian carriers Utair and Volga-Dnepr and seven with SkyUp Airlines of Ukraine.

In the past 10 years, Boeing has taken orders for 86 planes from Russian companies including 30 from Utair, 22 from Sberbank Leasing and six from Aeroflot, the nation's flag carrier.

The United States and its allies have been imposing steadily escalating sanctions on Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February. Sberbank is among the targets.

Boeing Co. said it delivered 41 planes in March, including 37 737s, most of them Max models. The Chicago-based company has delivered 95 planes so far this year, providing crucial cash because airlines typically pay a large part of the purchase price on delivery.