- President Donald Trump described Boeing as a “big disappointment” during an interview with CNBC on Wednesday.
- Boeing announced earlier this week that the grounded 737 Max plane will not return to service before “mid-2020,” significantly later than previous estimates.
- The interview represented a marked shift in Trump’s tone toward Boeing, the largest US exporter.
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President Donald Trump said that Boeing is a “big disappointment” on Wednesday, following the company’s announcement that it did not expect the troubled 737 Max to return before mid-2020.
“Very disappointing company,” Trump said in an interview with CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “This is one of the greatest companies of the world, let’s say, as of a year ago and all of a sudden things happened.”
Boeing announced on Tuesday that it estimates the 737 Max would not resume flying before “mid-2020,” with people familiar with the matter telling CNBC that June or July was the company’s best guess. News of the new timeline, later than had been previously expected, led Boeing shares to fall to a one-year low.
Boeing had initially said that the grounding would be resolved within weeks, and subsequently offered new estimates that it failed to meet. The timeline is ultimately dependent on the Federal Aviation Administration.
The new date expectations pose another challenge for airlines, who have been forced to adjust their flight schedules and equipment plans just a few months at a time repeatedly since the grounding.
American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and American Airlines – the three US carriers that currently have the Max in their fleets – have all most recently pulled the planes from their schedules through early June. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled daily due to the plane’s inoperability, most weeks ahead of scheduled travel.
The plane has been grounded worldwide since March 2019, following the second of two fatal crashes. Both crashes have been faulted on an automated flight control system that Boeing installed to make the plane manoeuvre more like an older version of the 737.
Trump’s comments represent a marked shift in tone. Previous statements have been more positive toward Boeing, which is the largest exporter in the US.
At last week’s signing of the phase one trade deal with China, Trump encouraged Boeing to resolve the problem quickly.
“Get that going. Work together,” he said, according to Reuters. “We’ve got to get that one moving fast and it’s going to be better than ever I think.”
Trump reportedly called former Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg shortly before his December firing to ask about the company’s plans to halt production of the plane.
Boeing has temporarily suspended assembly of the Max, its best-selling plane, at its Renton, Washington, factory. The company said it did not plan to lay off or furlough workers, but the assembly halt has affected the 600 companies that supply parts or services for the plane.
Earlier this month, the US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin estimated that the Max crisis could shave half a point of US economic growth.
Do you work for Boeing, a manufacturer, or an airline impacted by the 737 Max crisis? Email this reporter at [email protected]