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BRENDAN MCDERMID/Reuters

Boeing Co. said on Tuesday it delivered 22 aircraft in February, up from 17 a year earlier, and that its net orders had turned positive for the first time in 14 months as COVID-19 vaccine rollouts boosted the confidence of its airline customers.

The access to vaccines is expected to help a recovery in air travel, benefiting planemakers especially Boeing, which is relying on deliveries of the 737 Max for a financial turnaround after the jet’s grounding due to two fatal crashes.

Boeing said it booked 82 new orders in February, taking its gross total for the year so far to 86 planes.

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Customers also converted or cancelled around 50 orders last month, but the company’s orders net of cancellations still came to 31 jets last month, back in positive territory for the first time since November 2019.

The February orders include 25 737 Max jets for United Airlines announced earlier in March, 14 737 Max aircraft for unidentified customers and 27 KC-46 tankers for the U.S. Air Force announced in January.

Singapore Airlines also ordered 11 777X jets as part of a conversion deal announced last month that includes the cancellation of 19 of its 787-10 jetliners.

The rest of February’s cancelations were 32 737 Max planes, including 15 by Canada’s WestJet, eight by lessor Jackson Square, seven by Panama’s Copa Airlines, and one order each for BOC Aviation and a business jet customer.

Boeing’s order backlog stood at 4,041 aircraft as of end-February versus 4,016 jet orders as of January.

February deliveries include 18 737 Max jets, three wide-body planes and one P-8 military jet, but no 787 jet deliveries for the fourth straight month.

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