Ryanair Holdings Plc Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary joined in industry criticism of Boeing Co.’s leadership, saying the company needs a shakeup as production snags afflict its three main jetliner models.
O’Leary said Monday that Boeing’s Seattle-based airliner arm is in dire need of an overhaul, in some of the most pointed comments since the firm recently revealed that its 777X widebody won’t arrive until 2025 and that the short-haul 737 Max 10 may suffer long delays if it misses a key certification deadline.
“Boeing needs a management reboot in Seattle, and either the existing management needs to up its game or they need to change the existing management,” he said. “Seattle needs a reboot and needs a reboot quickly.”
Speaking in an analyst briefing after Ryanair published full-year earnings, O’Leary said Boeing executives are “running around like headless chickens,” both struggling to sell planes and failing to deliver those they have sold.
The broadside follows recent attacks on Boeing from aircraft leasing firms that are among its biggest clients. Air Lease Corp. Chairman Steven Udvar-Hazy said last week that issues with wide-body planes, including stalled production of the 787 Dreamliner, have become a major annoyance and that management changes could be likely. Avolon Holdings Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Domhnal Slattery said that Boeing has lost its way and needs fresh vision and leaders.
O’Leary, known for driving hard bargains with Boeing on fleet orders, stopped short of calling for the ousting of CEO Dave Calhoun, saying Ryanair is “very happy to work with the existing management,” provided it improves on its record over the past 12 months.
Ryanair was expecting to get most of its new 737 jets for the summer by April, but Boeing failed to supply them on time, O’Leary said, forcing the carrier to pull some capacity.
The CEO added that Boeing plans to move headquarters from Chicago to the Washington, D.C. area “may be good for the defense side” but won’t fix “fundamental underlying problems on the civilian aircraft side in Seattle.”
O’Leary reiterated that talks on a follow-on order for the Max 10 variant have been on hold since September after the companies failed to agree on price.