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Airbus says it’s ‘not happy’ about issues at rival Boeing

Airbus CFO: We're not happy with the issues at Boeing

French plane maker Airbus is “not happy” about the multitude of problems facing its U.S. rival Boeing, according to its chief financial officer.

“We’re not happy with the issues that our competitor’s having. I think it’s not helpful for the industry, and if it’s not helpful for the industry, it’s not helpful for Airbus,” Thomas Toepfer told CNBC’s Charlotte Reed in an interview Thursday.

“We do think that we have very good products. And we have seen this in the very good order intake that we’ve seen in 2023. And that is simply continuing also in 2024.”

Boeing is under intense pressure after a series of costly and reputationally damaging incidents. A door plug on one of its 737 Max 9 aircraft blew out during an Alaska Airlines flight on Jan. 5, over which it is now facing a lawsuit and a Federal Aviation Administration investigation.

That came after two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019 involving the 737 Max, its bestselling aircraft, which dented public trust in the company and raised serious questions about its culture and quality control processes.

The fuselage plug area of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 Boeing 737-9 MAX, which was forced to make an emergency landing with a gap in the fuselage, is seen during its investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in Portland, Oregon, U.S. January 7, 2024.

NTSB | Via Reuters

Concerns have meanwhile mounted that plane makers are under too much pressure to increase the speed of production as airlines face a capacity crunch.

Toepfer told CNBC, “The way I would look at it is … it’s a factor that makes us even think more, how can we make sure that these things will never happen at Airbus?”

“We’re obsessed by the thought, and therefore we have put even more scrutiny in terms of our production processes. We have even put more emphasis on the long-term investments that we’re making in terms of products, but also technology. And I think that has served us very well in the past, we’re continuing exactly along this path.”

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Aviation bosses — many of whom have large outstanding Boeing orders — have generally expressed their ongoing confidence in the company over the last six years of turmoil. However, a group of airline chief executives recently requested a meeting with Boeing’s board to express their concern over the Alaska Airlines fiasco and production issues, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Michael O’Leary, the outspoken head of low-cost carrier Ryanair, sharply criticized Boeing’s handling of the 737 Max crisis and its leadership in an interview with Skift this week.

Like other airlines, Ryanair has made the highly efficient, single-aisle jet core to its growth and fleet renewal strategy.

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