Wednesday, Boeing’s new CEO David Calhoun spoke with the press for about 50 minutes, a sharp contrast to his predecessor, who typically walked away from tough media questions without answering them. While this openness to the press is laudable, some of the statements Calhoun made raise concerns about the future of the company.
In the call, Calhoun, who just two months ago said that Dennis Muilenburg did everything right just before his firing attempted to rebuild some of Boeing’s credibility. Unfortunately, he was only partially successful on the call.
In our opinion, four major concerns emerged – the focus only on the MAX, the continuation of dividends while the company is borrowing money to cover the cash flow crisis, the description of a “micro-culture” problem within the company, and his statement that he, nor anyone else, saw any issues of trading safety for something else. Perhaps his myopia has been influenced by his insider status at Boeing over the last decade. But it appears he just can’t see the forest for the trees.
His statements on restarting production earlier than re-entry into service and blaming the delays on simulator training also don’t make sense, and perhaps are a cover for additional MAX problems that may be more serious than disclosed.
Calhoun also made some very positive statements, including saying that if there ever was a time to emphasize safety as the most important part of shareholder value, it is now. The question is whether he will follow through.
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