Boeing focused on ‘trust building’ in Latin America after global CEO shake-up

By Thomson Reuters Apr 11, 2024 | 1:27 PM

By Alexander Villegas

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Boeing’s Latin America President Landon Loomis says that the embattled airplane manufacturer is focusing on rebuilding trust after a series of safety incidents have shaken trust in the company and led CEO Dave Calhoun to announce he would step down by year-end.

“We are in the moment of a deep fundamental trust building exercise that has to flow through our entire factory, our engagements with the press, with government stakeholders, with our own employees,” Loomis told Reuters in an interview at an aviation conference in Santiago.

“That’s how we’re handling this process of leadership transition.”

Loomis said that the region is expected to grow at a pace of 5.5% of passenger traffic annually and will need an additional 2,000 aircraft in the next 20 years to meet demand.

He expects the company to be at the forefront of that demand, but Boeing has faced production issues, including deliveries dropping by half in March due to increased quality checks.

Loomis said that global delivery schedules are hard to meet but the company is focusing on reaching production stability with a focus on safety.

“That’s our starting point, safety through quality,” Loomis said, adding that the airline will be able to meet client demands.

Despite Brazil’s GOL airlines filing for bankruptcy in January, Loomis says the airline is a “critical” partner in the region and one of the largest 737 customers in the world.

The executive said that the manufacturer’s relationship with LATAM airlines is “growing,” and that Boeing worked closely with the airline and Australian government after a flight suffered a sudden mid-air dive and injured 50 people.

The March incident followed a Jan. 5 mid-air panel blowout on a 737-Max plane, and earlier this week the company was hit with whistleblower allegations and an investigation due to the loss of an engine cover on a Southwest flight.

In February, an expert panel found a “disconnect” between Boeing’s management and employees on safety concerns and some investors said a wider management shakeup is needed to address the company’s safety problems.

“I think we’re right now in an important moment and the company’s managing it, so I don’t have a thought on that,” Loomis said when asked about the need for a wider management shakeup at the company.

When it comes to the short-term, Loomis said he wanted a year of “promises made, promises kept.”

“It doesn’t mean avoiding all the problems. It means handling the problem, addressing a problem, being honest about a problem,” Loomis said. “That’s the nuts and bolts of relationship management, building and trust building.”

(Reporting by Alexander Villegas; Additional reporting by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Nick Zieminski)