Boeing Co. on Thursday reported a sharp drop in orders for its commercial jetliners in April, as the troubled global economy continued to hurt demand from airlines and cargo services.
The Chicago-based aerospace company received orders for 17 jetliners last month, down from 58 planes ordered during the same month last year, according to figures posted on the company's Web site.
Boeing said it delivered 39 planes in April, down slightly from 40 delivered during the same month in 2008.
Boeing, the world's No. 2 commercial plane maker after France-based Airbus, has grappled with weaker demand in recent months as the world financial crisis has forced airlines to cancel or postpone plans to buy new planes. Limited access to credit has made it more difficult for potential customers to finance new aircraft purchases.
At Boeing's annual meeting last week, Chairman and Chief Executive Jim McNerney assured shareholders that the company was in strong shape to ride out a "once-in-a-lifetime" downturn that has walloped its profits, jetliner orders and stock price.
He pointed to a huge backlog of orders, diversification between its commercial airplane and defense businesses and progress on its long-delayed 787, a next-generation aircraft scheduled to fly for the first time before July.
Earlier in April, Boeing reported a 50 percent drop in first-quarter profit, citing production cuts as airlines postpone deliveries of new planes. It also forecast lower earnings for the year and reduced aircraft prices.
During the quarter, Boeing delayed about 60 planes scheduled for delivery in 2010-11 at the request of customers and has been working on more.
Shares of Boeing fell $1.17, or 2.7 percent, to $43.03 in midday trading Thursday.