Ryanair’s CEO launched a scathing and obscene attack on Boeing management on Monday, saying the company’s executives needed either an “immediate restart or an a** restart”.
“At the moment, we believe that Boeing management is running around like headless chickens, unable to sell planes, and even the planes they deliver, they are unable to deliver them on time,” Michael said. O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair. , Europe’s largest discount carrier, which has ordered nearly 400 jets from Boeing since 2010.
O’Leary and Boeing had an unusually public dispute last fall over negotiations over a possible order for the next-generation 737 Max, with Irish-based Ryanair breaking off talks over a pricing row.
The CEO’s unusually blunt comments on Monday focused on Boeing’s aircraft delivery delays. O’Leary said Ryanair had to reduce its spring and summer schedules because planes it expected the maker to deliver by the end of April were unlikely to arrive until the end of June.
He was furious at the delays, not least because Ryanair buys planes known as white tails, which Boeing had built for other airlines. The original purchaser of these planes canceled the order during an extended 20-month grounding of the 737 Max that followed two fatal crashes.
“I can understand why there can be various challenges in making new planes, but the planes you built and made two years ago that all you had to… do was put gas in them and fly them to Dublin, really I don’t understand why you’re two to three months behind on that,” he said on a conference call with investors about the financial results of the airline company. “It speaks to very poor managerial performance in Seattle.”
Boeing declined to comment on O’Leary’s remarks.
O’Leary said Boeing makes great planes, but maybe it’s time for a change of direction.
“Either the existing management has to up their game or they have to change the existing management, that would be our outlook on life,” he said. “We are very happy to work with the existing management, but they really need to improve on what they have provided us with over the past 12 months. … We’re a willing customer, but we’re struggling with slow deliveries and an inability to get a deal on new planes despite how many white tails they’ve been sitting on the fucking floor in Seattle.
Boeing has faced many problems in recent years, including the 737 Max crisis that cost it more than $20 billion. The company was also hit by an FAA-ordered halt to deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner last June due to quality control issues. And it has faced delays in getting approval for its next-generation jumbo jet, the 777X, which has forced Boeing to push back first deliveries of the plane by two years to at least 2025.
Boeing has also suffered substantial losses in its military and space businesses, including a recent charge of $660 million on the two planes it is completing which will be used as the new Air Force Ones. He is also battling delays in building a spacecraft to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station.
“If they get together, we would be ready to get more planes for summer 23 and summer 24,” O’Leary said. “There is growth to be gained.”
He also said the airline was open to resuming negotiations on an order for the next-generation 737 Max, although he pointed out that it had not yet obtained FAA approval, which made it risky. Ryanair therefore also plans to eventually buy 50 jets on the second-hand market. And he had some choice words for Boeing sales staff.
“You wonder what the hell their sales team has been up to for the past two years,” O’Leary said. “Frankly, most of them seem to be sitting at home in their f***ing jimjams working from home instead of being out there selling planes to customers.”
O’Leary also criticized Boeing’s recently announced plan to move its headquarters from Chicago to Arlington, Va., a suburb of Washington.
“Moving headquarters from Chicago to Virginia, while it may be good for the defense side of the business, doesn’t solve the fundamental underlying issues on the civilian aircraft side in Seattle,” he said.
In addition to O’Leary, several other airlines have complained in recent conference calls — albeit in much less colorful language — about problems they are facing with 787 or 777X delays.
Domhnal Slattery, CEO of Avolon, one of the world’s leading aircraft leasing companies, suggested earlier this month that Boeing needed a change in culture — and perhaps leadership.
“I think it’s fair to say that Boeing has lost its way,” Slattery told the Airfinance Journal conference, in comments first reported by Reuters and confirmed by Avolon. “Boeing has a rich history… They build great planes. But they say culture eats strategy for breakfast and that’s what happened at Boeing.
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