By Valerie Insinna
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Boeing delivered 35 planes in August, its lowest number since April, as it struggles with time-consuming work needed to correct a manufacturing defect on the bestselling 737 MAX.
Overall, the company has handed over 344 planes to customers during the first eight months of 2023, a jump from the same period last year when work was affected by the pandemic. By comparison, European rival Airbus has delivered 433 aircraft over the first eight months, 52 of those in August.
Last month's deliveries included only 22 narrowbody 737s MAXs, of which one was a Boeing Business Jet. Boeing CFO Brian West said on Thursday that the company would be on the "low end" of its 400-450 target for 737 deliveries this year due to the extensive process used to inspect and fix thousands of misdrilled holes on the 737 MAX 8 aft pressure bulkhead.
The company booked new orders for 43 planes after factoring in two cancellations. The total for the month includes a previously unannounced sale of 25 737 MAX 8 planes to aircraft lessor SMBC Aviation Capital. Airbus sold 117 planes in August.
In addition to the MAX, Boeing handed over 13 widebody jets including five 787 Dreamliners, three 767s - including three KC-46 tankers for the U.S. Air Force and two freighters for FedEx - as well as three 777 freighters.
Investors closely watch delivery numbers, as airplane makers receive the majority of payment for an aircraft when it is transferred to a customer.
Boeing's gross orders since the start of January rose to 624 in August, or 510 net orders after factoring in cancellations and conversions and 737 net orders after accounting adjustments. Airbus has booked 1,257 gross orders or 1,218 after cancellations.
Its commercial backlog increased from 4,928 to 4,971.
(Reporting by Valerie Insinna; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)