AFP - The Boeing Company said Thursday its commercial airplane orders fell in 2008 to less than half of the prior year's orders amid a global economic slowdown.
Boeing said it had 662 net commercial airplane orders, raising its backlog of unfilled commercial orders to more than 3,700 airplanes.
In 2007, the aerospace giant reported a record 1,413 net commercial plane orders.
Boeing said its Next-Generation 737 remained the best seller in 2008, with 484 units sold worldwide.
Demand for the new 787 Dreamliner also remained strong with 93 ordered, mainly by Middle East customers, it said.
"While we clearly faced obstacles, 2008 also was a time of accomplishment at Commercial Airplanes," said Scott Carson, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive, who noted that the 2008 order total was the eighth highest on record.
Boeing said in a separate statement that it had delivered 50 commercial airplanes in the fourth quarter of 2008 and 375 for the full year.
It noted that deliveries of certain models were affected by a 58-day machinists strike that ended in November.
Boeing in December delayed the maiden flight of the 787 Dreamliner plane and pushed back first deliveries to early 2010 because of production and labor problems.
The six-month-postponement was the latest setback for the Dreamliner project that was launched in 2004 with a record order from All Nippon Airways.
Now the Japanese launch customer will not receive delivery until the first quarter of 2010, roughly two years later than initially promised.
Boeing pushed back the 787's first flight into the second quarter of 2009 from the current fourth quarter.