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Major airlines want to hear how Boeing plans to fix problems in the manufacturing of its planes

The heads of leading U.S. airlines want to meet with Boeing and hear the aircraft manufacturer’s strategy for fixing quality-control problems that have gained attention since a panel blew out of an Alaska Airlines jetliner in January, people familiar with the situation said Thursday.

The meeting is likely to take place next week, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private discussions between Boeing and the airlines.

The request by airline leaders was reported first by The Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper said that Boeing CEO David Calhoun is not expected to meet with the airline officials, and that Boeing has offered to send its chairman, former Continental Airlines CEO Lawrence Kellner, and other board members.

Boeing declined to comment.

The company’s chief financial officer, Brian West, said at an investor conference Wednesday that the slowdown in aircraft production would cause Boeing to burn through $4 billion to $4.5 billion in cash flow during the first quarter, which ends March 31.

“We put the customers in a tight spot … the slowdown has impacted us, and it has impacted them,” West said. He said airline customers “have been supportive of everything we are trying to do to enhance safety and quality for the industry.”

United Airlines and American Airlines declined to comment on the airlines’ request, and Alaska Airlines did not immediately respond to an inquiry. A Southwest spokesman declined to comment on specific meetings but said, “We have ongoing, frequent communication with Boeing, which is not new and will continue.”

Airline CEOs have been outspoken in their frustration with Boeing’s manufacturing problems, which have slowed deliveries of planes that the carriers were counting on.

Southwest, which has an all-Boeing fleet, said last week that the company told it to expect 46 new planes this year instead of 79, which will force Southwest to reduce its planned schedule.

United is considering buying Airbus jets because increased scrutiny of Boeing is likely to further delay the launch of a planned new, larger Max model.

Boeing shares have dropped 28% this year from fallout over the Alaska accident and production problems.

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