Boeing lost its way, Avolon CEO

DUBLIN, IRELAND — Domhnal Slattery, the CEO of the Dublin-based aircraft leasing company, said on Thursday Boeing had lost its way and might need new leadership to fix a flawed culture that overshadowed its revival.

The comments by the head of the world's second-largest aircraft lessor Avolon were a rare and unexpected public criticism for Boeing from a long-term customer. The Irish lessor had canceled orders for over 100 737 MAX jets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I think it's fair to say that Boeing has lost its way," Slattery said during the Airfinance Journal conference in Dublin. The event is an international meeting held by the world's aircraft lessors, which own most of the world's passenger jets operated by the airlines.

"Boeing has to fundamentally re-imagine its strategic relevance in the marketplace. This would require fresh vision, maybe fresh leadership. I have faith that they will figure it out," Slattery said. Boeing has recently announced that it was halting 777X production through 2023 and failed to set a timeline to resume Boeing 787 Dreamliners after a year-long suspension over quality issues.

"They are burning cash at an unprecedented level. They're probably going to get downgraded. Boeing has a storied history; they build great airplanes. But it's said that culture eats strategy for breakfast, and that is what has happened at Boeing," Slattery added.

Two fatal 737 MAX crashes, which led to a two-year grounding of the aircraft, external regulatory pressures that interrupted 787 deliveries, and delay in the 777X program, have badly shaken the world's largest commercial aircraft producer.
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