Boeing’s customers have been vocal about their frustrations. “I am angry,” Ben Minicucci, the chief executive of Alaska Airlines, told NBC News on Tuesday after finding “many” loose bolts in its Max 9 checks. “My demand on Boeing is what are they going to do to improve their quality programs in-house.”
Scott Kirby, United Airlines’ chief executive, told CNBC on Tuesday that “the Max 9 grounding is probably the straw that broke the camel’s back for us.” He said the company was not sure whether it would get the Max 10 planes — a new airliner that has yet to be certified — that it had ordered any time soon. “We’re going to at least build a plan that doesn’t have the Max 10 in it,” Mr. Kirby said.
Airline bosses hope the tough comments will force Boeing to improve quality control and engineering. But they do not want to stoke panic about plane safety amid a sharp rebound in travel bookings over the past year. And there are not many alternatives to Boeing or its chief rival, Airbus.
Boeing’s woes will have a lasting impact. Mike Leskinen, United’s chief financial officer, told analysts that the groundings would dent growth in the “coming years.” Michael O’Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, a low-cost European airline that is one of Boeing’s biggest customers, also has doubts that the Max 10 will be delivered soon.