Warren Buffett’s this weekend lambasted Wall Street’s clamber for ‘the crumbs that fall off the table of capitalism’. But the pressure of airlifting quarterly returns has possibly proved a double-edged sword for investors when it comes to legacy of the skies, Boeing (BA), after the company last week again missed earnings expectations.
The former darling of Seattle, builder of really big planes and the middle class economy, has faced a payload of scrutiny following two fatal plane crashes of their 737 MAX 8 aircraft in 2018 and months later in 2019. And this March, their Boeing 737-800 fell out of Chinese skies, likely sparking fresh scrutiny. So how did Boeing’s sky-high position shift from ‘If it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going’ to a ‘culture of concealment’? ✈️
It’s been a turbulent journey for Boeing since their 377 Stratocruiser flew the highway to Hawai’i in 1950s Mad Men style, complete with a bar and buffet dining. Long before Trump bullied from the pulpit to negotiate a cut-price deal of Air Force One planes, which today’s CEO says will likely cost the company US$1.1 billion, Boeing’s story of corporate greed began with a fatal flaw: replacing engineering decisions with financial ones. 🪂 The first being after Boeing merged with their greatest rival, aerospace and defence contractor McDonnell Douglas when they allowed incoming James McDonnell to take over as CEO, where he accelerated delivery of shareholder returns by axing 48,000 jobs. That decision ominously set the flight path towards the MAX safety failures.
Boeing's so-called ‘deadly tale of greed’ is laid bare in a Netflix documentary that unravels how the passenger plane pioneer ‘withheld information about potential hazards’ to avoid costly pilot training for their 737 MAX. So while the world looks towards a pilot shortage that may fly into 2030, 👩✈️ it could be a while yet before travellers even want to leave on a jet plane…even for olive oil bottle minis.