News Briefs – November 17, 2019

North Korea issues warning over U.S.-South Korea drills

North Korea’s supreme decision-making body lashed out Wednesday at planned U.S.-South Korean military drills and warned that the United States will face a “bigger threat and harsh suffering” if it ignores North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s end-of-year deadline to salvage nuclear talks.
The North’s State Affairs Commission said the drills would violate agreements between Kim and President Donald Trump on improving bilateral relations and compel North Korea to raise its war readiness.
Kim is chairman of the commission, which he established in 2016 following years of efforts to consolidate his power and centralize governance.
The statement is North Korea’s latest expression of displeasure over the military drills and slow pace of nuclear negotiations with Washington. The talks have stalled over disagreements on disarmament steps and sanctions relief. AP

Esper: U.S. could alter military drills to boost NKorea talks

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says he is open to altering American military activities in South Korea if it would help advance a diplomatic deal with North Korea.
Esper said Nov. 13 while traveling to Seoul that any change in military exercises or training would not hurt combat preparedness and would be done in consultation with the South Korean government.
He wouldn’t say what specific adjustments might be contemplated. The U.S. and South Korea have already scaled back military exercises in the hope that it would help move North Korea toward agreement to give up its nuclear weapons. So far that has not worked.
Esper said he takes seriously North Korea’s statement that the end of this year is a deadline for the U.S. to change its approach to the nuclear negotiations. AP

Boeing orders, deliveries continue to sag with Max grounding

Orders and deliveries of new Boeing planes remain depressed eight months into the grounding of the company’s 737 Max, leaving Boeing far behind its chief competitor.
Boeing said Nov. 12 that an aircraft-leasing company replaced an order for 15 Max jets with an order of five 787s, a larger plane used mostly on international routes. Another customer dropped an order for three Max planes after ordering a larger Boeing 777 earlier this year.
Chicago-based Boeing said it took 10 new orders in October, down from 24 in the same month last year, which included 14 Max jets.
The company delivered 20 commercial planes last month, including 12 for the 787, which Boeing calls the Dreamliner. That is down from 57 a year earlier, a decline that hurts Boeing’s cash flow because customers pay much of the purchase price on delivery, Boeing burned through $2.9 billion in cash in the third quarter, compared with generating $4.1 billion in free cash flow a year earlier, and it took on $5.5 billion in new debt.
European rival Airbus said it took 415 orders in October, with 300 coming in one deal with IndiGo. The Indian discount carrier ordered planes in the Airbus A320neo family, planes that compete with the Max. Airbus said it delivered 77 airliners last month, including 56 in the neo category.
The Max has been grounded since March after two accidents killed 346 people. On Monday, Boeing said it hopes to resume deliveries of the Max in December and win Federal Aviation Administration approval of changes to the plane and a pilot-training course in January, clearing the way for the plane to return to service in the United States.
Regulators in other countries are expected to take longer. AP