BOEING MOVES TO NEW CEO
By Todd Horwitz
Boeing CEO Fired
Boeing said on Monday that it had fired its chief executive, Dennis A. Muilenburg, who was unable to stabilize the company after two crashes involving its best-selling 737 Max plane killed 346 people and set off the worst crisis in the manufacturing giant’s 103-year history. The plane has been grounded by regulators since March and the company and its airline customers have lost billions of dollars. Boeing has faced a series of delays as it tries to fix the Max, and the jetliner’s return to the air remains months away at best.
President Trump recently called Mr. Muilenburg for an update on how the company was doing, underscoring its importance to the American economy. Last week, Boeing said it would temporarily shut down production of the Max, a decision that will force some of the 8,000 companies in the supply chain to scale back production and perhaps lay off workers.
Regulators had criticized Mr. Muilenburg’ s efforts to reassure customers and the financial community that government approval of a fix for the MAX was coming soon—optimism that repeatedly proved misplaced. The new leadership team made it clear in public statements Monday that they won’t get ahead of regulators in predicting the return to service of the 737 MAX after its grounding in March following twin crashes that claimed 346 lives.
Boeing’s board decided to oust Mr. Muilenburg on Sunday during a 5 p.m. Eastern Time conference call following weekend conversations, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Muilenburg didn’t participate in the discussion of his fate, though before turning to that matter the board discussed other issues with him.
The company has lost about $50 billion in market value since the MAX crisis began, with the stock off 24% from its level before the second crash in March. The MAX, which went into service in 2017, is Boeing’s best-selling plane. Boeing shares rose about 3% on Monday to $337.55. The MAX’s return to service won’t happen until regulators approve fixes to a flight-control system implicated in the two crashes. And board members have been particularly concerned about increasing friction with the FAA, which ultimately holds the key, the person familiar with the board said, calling the tension a “very significant and negative development.”
Todd “Bubba” Horwitz