American Airlines CEO calls out Boeing saying the company 'needs to get their act together' and that quality issues are 'unacceptable'



The chorus of Boeing Co. critics grew louder as more top airline executives called out the planemaker over a series of quality lapses that have grounded aircraft and upended the operations of numerous carriers.

“We’re going to hold them accountable,” Robert Isom, chief executive officer of American Airlines Group Inc., said on a conference call Thursday to discuss quarterly results. “Boeing needs to get their act together. The issues they’ve been dealing with, and going back some years now, is unacceptable.”

Isom and Southwest Airlines Co. CEO Bob Jordan joined counterparts at Alaska Air Group Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. who have expressed frustration privately and publicly in recent days over the crisis engulfing the aircraft builder. A Boeing 737 Max 9 plane suffered a serious safety accident during an Alaska Airlines flight earlier this month, prompting authorities to ground the model and step up scrutiny of the company’s manufacturing.

The problems for airlines run deeper than mere irritation. Alaska said Thursday that it would incur a $150 million hit from the grounding and be forced to slow its growth plans. Southwest said it no longer anticipates receiving the smaller Max 7 plane this year and cut the number of aircraft deliveries it expects “due to Boeing’s continued supply chain challenges.”

Jordan said he’s spoken with Boeing leadership to make sure “they understand our feelings and our support of them doing anything and everything required to get better.”

“The quality issue is a must, improving safety is a must, and becoming a better company is a must,” he said in an interview.

Alaska Air CEO Ben Minicucci echoed the sentiment, saying the carrier will “hold Boeing’s feet to the fire to make sure we get good airplanes.”

“Until this incident we were happy with the Max,” he said.

United cited Boeing’s inability to meet contractual obligations when the carrier said this week it had removed the yet-to-be delivered Max 10 from its internal plans.

The fallout is putting renewed pressure on Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun and other members of the executive team. Isom didn’t specifically call out any of the company’s leaders.

“No matter who it is, Boeing needs to come together and get back on the right track,” he said.

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