Wings Magazine

Boeing executive calls slump ‘once in a lifetime’

April 27, 2009, Chicago - Boeing chairman and chief executive Jim McNerney assured shareholders that the company is in strong shape to ride out the downturn.

April 27, 2009  By Dave Carpenter

April 27, 2009, Chicago – Boeing Co. chairman and chief executive Jim McNerney assured shareholders Monday that the company is in strong shape to ride out the “once-in-a-lifetime” downturn that has walloped its profits, jetliner orders and stock price.

Putting an upbeat spin on a slump that has hit both the aerospace company and its customers hard, he cited as reasons for optimism _ Boeing’s huge backlog of orders, diversification between commercial airplanes and defence and its continued, albeit halting, progress on the 787.

McNerney also reiterated that the oft-delayed new passenger jet will take to the air before the end of June.

“We are on track to fly this quarter,” he said, without giving a more specific date on its first flight.


A week after Boeing posted a sharp drop in quarterly earnings, McNerney acknowledged that the company is still going through “a tough patch.” He noted that the world’s airlines are expected to see a 12 per cent decline in revenue this year, or about twice the drop they experienced after the terrorist attacks of 2001.

“Almost overnight, we have gone from flying with the wind at our backs to flying into the teeth of a strong headwind,” he said at Boeing’s annual meeting at a museum in Chicago.
Nevertheless, he maintained that the current downturn is “a once-in-a-lifetime storm and not a permanent condition.” The company, he said, believes that the recession will inevitably give way to a new era of economic growth and prosperity.

“Fundamentally, this is a solid company with strong core businesses in markets that will continue to expand,” McNerney said.

Under questioning from a shareholder, he said outsourcing on the 787 “didn’t turn out as well as we thought.”

McNerney did not go beyond previous company statements either in his upbeat prepared remarks, answers to shareholders or brief remarks to reporters afterward.

He said he is not sure how many job cuts will result from Boeing’s announcement earlier this month that it will reduce monthly production of the 777 to five from seven starting in June 2010.

The company announced in January that it planned to cut a total of 10,000 jobs after reporting a surprise loss for the fourth quarter.



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