New Boeing Co chief executive officer David Calhoun on Monday told employees that the company must strengthen its culture, focus on “integrity” and be “transparent,” an e-mail sent to staff showed.
Calhoun, a longtime Boeing board member, officially took over on Monday as chief executive, replacing Dennis Muilenburg, who was ousted last month, as the company faces a drawn-out crisis following deadly crashes of its top-selling 737 MAX jet.
Calhoun invoked the airline’s “tremendous legacy of aerospace achievement,” saying that employees must work to “rebuild trust” and restore key relationships with customers, partners and regulators.
“I see greatness in this company, but I also see opportunities to be better — much better,” Calhoun said. “That includes engaging one another and our stakeholders with greater transparency, holding ourselves accountable to the highest standards of safety and quality, and an incorporating outside-in perspective on what we do and how we do it.”
He takes the reins four days after the release of a new trove of embarrassing employee e-mails, including one saying that the 737 MAX was “designed by clowns.”
The aircraft has been grounded since March, following two deadly crashes.
Boeing faces numerous probes and lawsuits over the crashes. The incidents have already cost the company more than US$9 billion and led to the suspension of production of the 737 MAX, due to lengthy delays in winning regulatory approval to resume flights.
Calhoun said that returning the MAX to service safely “must be our primary focus,” including “following the lead of our regulators and working with them to ensure they’re satisfied completely with the airplane and our work so that we can continue to meet our customer commitments.”
Underlining the challenges ahead, ratings agency Moody’s Investor Service on Monday placed Boeing’s debt rating on review for downgrade.
Moody’s said that it saw “a more costly and protracted recovery for Boeing to restore confidence.”
Shares of Boeing on Monday closed up 0.1 percent in New York trading, paring gains from earlier in the day. Shares have fallen more than 20 percent since the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March, which led to the grounding of the airplane.
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