Ryanair boss says Boeing’s Pope needed in production, not CEO role

By Thomson Reuters Mar 28, 2024 | 5:18 AM

By Olivier Sorgho

KRAKOW, Poland (Reuters) – Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said he wants Boeing’s new head of commercial airplanes division Stephanie Pope to stay in the role to fix production problems rather than be considered a contender as the planemaker’s new head.

O’Leary said the identity of the next CEO was secondary to the need for Boeing to address the problems that have caused delivery delays and pushed back his airline’s aggressive growth plans.

But he still said he would prefer Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun to stay on to complete the turnaround. Calhoun said on Monday he would step down by the year-end following the departure of company’s commercial planemaking chief and its chairman.

“No, no, no. We want her in Seattle,” O’Leary told reporters when asked if Pope, who was named in her new role this week, should be considered as a successor for Calhoun.

“The problems in Boeing will be fixed if you fix aircraft production in Seattle. It doesn’t matter to us who runs the overall business in Virginia, because whoever runs the main bit, that’s dealing with government and dealing with defence stuff. We need somebody in Seattle managing the production in Seattle.”

“I’m happy with the management changes in Seattle. I would prefer that Dave Calhoun stayed on to complete the turnaround. I think he’s done a good job,” he added.

O’Leary has consistently backed Calhoun and has blamed Boeing’s problems on production management.

A revolt by U.S. airline bosses helped to topple Calhoun, people familiar with the discussions told Reuters.

(Reporting by Olivier Sorgho; writing by Padraic Halpin; editing by Mark Heinrich and Barbara Lewis)