Boeing suspends financial outlook as it focuses on safety

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Boeing said Wednesday it would not provide a full-year financial forecast, the clearest indication yet that the company is trying to reassure customers that it is prioritizing safety amid growing concerns about its popular 737 Max planes. .

Even when announcing its quarterly earnings, the company decided to focus on discussing quality control. Boeing is trying to stem the fallout from an incident less than four weeks ago in which a hole opened in an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 plane shortly after takeoff.

“While we often use this time of year to share or update our financial and operational goals, now is not the time for that,” Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun wrote in a message to employees. “We will simply focus on each upcoming aircraft while doing everything we can to support our customers, follow our regulator's lead and ensure the highest level of safety and quality in everything we do.”

With the Jan. 5 incident still under investigation by federal officials, Boeing executives had been debating how much to emphasize their efforts to improve safety while reassuring shareholders about their financial performance. Quality concerns have taken on new urgency after news reports, including in The New York Times, that Boeing workers opened and reinstalled the panel that flew off the plane, known as a door plug.

The incident terrified passengers and forced the pilots to make an emergency landing in Portland, Oregon. It renewed concerns among some aviation experts that Boeing has focused too much on boosting profits and enriching shareholders through buybacks and dividends and not enough on engineering and safety. Experts raised similar concerns after two crashes on the 737 Max 8 that killed nearly 350 people in 2018 and 2019.

The effects of the incident on Boeing's financial performance are not yet known: the results it announced on Wednesday were for the three months ending December 31.

In its earnings release Wednesday, the company said it was producing 737 Max jets at a rate of 38 per month. It expected to increase that rate to 42 per month this year, a year-over-year increase of about 100 planes.

But the Federal Aviation Administration said last week it was limiting Boeing's ability to increase production of all 737 Max planes, including approving additional assembly lines, until the company showed it had resolved its production control issues. quality.

The company said Wednesday that it lost $30 million in the fourth quarter, an improvement from a loss of $663 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose to $22 billion, from about $20 billion a year earlier.

The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to release a preliminary report on the Alaska Airlines incident in the coming days.



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