Airline CEOs Demand Meeting With Boeing Board Of Directors Without CEO David Calhoun

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Summary

  • Boeing’s board to meet with airline CEOs without CEO Calhoun present amid industry concerns.
  • US carriers like Southwest and United facing issues with Boeing aircraft, impacting operations.
  • Boeing facing pressure from international customers like Copa Airlines seeking compensation.

Boeing’s board of directors has apparently agreed to meet with major airline CEOs without the presence of its CEO, David Calhoun, as reported by Fox News and the Wall Street Journal earlier today. The meeting would be the latest confrontation between business executives and aviation industry leaders that Boeing has faced after the failure of a door plug on the now infamous January 5th Alaska Airlines 1282 flight.

It’s unclear which airlines will be involved in the meeting. Boeing itself declined to comment. US Airlines represents some of the largest customers of Boeing aircraft, with American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines ranked as the top 3 largest airlines in the world for their fleet size.

Months of pain for US carriers

Beyond the big 3 American carriers, Southwest Airlines, which is the 4th biggest airline in the world by its fleet size, has adjusted its revenue projections and limited the growth of its flight schedule due to problems with the American plane manufacturer.

United Airlines, for its part, has suffered a number of high-profile issues with some of its Boeing-manufactured aircraft. Where these maintenance issues have been normal for airline operations, coverage of these events has increased. The airline sighted delays with Boeing’s 737 MAX10, and other problems with Boeing aircraft when the airline recently suspended pilot hiring.

A United Airlines Boeing 737 flying in the sky.

Photo: Angel DiBilio | Shutterstock

The meeting could take place as early as next week. The meeting follows David Calhoun’s visit to the US Capital to discuss privately with members of US Congress and their staff as an alternative to a formal meeting. Calhoun and leaders with Boeing had also met with leadership of the Federal Aviation Administration both at the regulator’s DC headquarters and at Boeing facilities in Seattle, Washington.

All of these meetings took place as the plane maker drew increased government criticism, with the Chairwoman of the NTSB going to the press to say that Boeing was stonewalling its investigation of Alaska Airlines flight 1282.

International problems

Beyond the domestic troubles for the US plane manufacturer, it has also faced increased pressure from its International customers. Copa Airlines, the largest 737 MAX operator in Latin America, grounded 20% of its daily flight schedule while grounding the 737 MAX 9 aircraft type. The airline said it would seek compensation from Boeing to compensate for its losses.

More recently, Ryanair’s famously eccentric CEO said that he would like the airline to have a bigger number of Airbus aircraft. Ryanair, like Southwest and Copa Airlines, has maintained a 737-only fleet.

Ryanair Boeing 737 MAX arriving from Dublin, Ireland.
Photo: Bradley Caslin | Shutterstock

Boeing’s airline pressure isn’t limited to the 737 MAX 9. The manufacturer has also faced delays around the certification of its 737 MAX 10 and is expecting increased delays on the certification of its delayed 777X program. These delays in certification are paired with increasingly poor deliveries, as the plane maker has increasingly slowed the production schedule, and regulators have suggested that it had sacrificed safety to accelerate in the first place.

Tim Clark, the president of Emirates, a significant customer of the 777X, said that the widebody program could be delayed into 2026. While words from Tim Clark have always generated headlines in the airline industry, the 777X itself was delayed largely in 2022, when Boeing had halted production in response to the original 737 MAX 8 crisis. The aircraft was originally expected to be introduced in 2020.



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