Boeing posts first loss in 20 years as 737 Max grounding grinds on

New CEO sticks by June timetable for aircraft's return

Boeing lost $1.01 billion in the last three months of 2019 as the grounding of its best-selling 737 Max jetliner stretched toward a full year, crimping airline customers' revenue and forcing out CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who had become the face of the crisis.

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Sales dropped 37 percent to $17.9 billion as deliveries of commercial airplanes tumbled 67%. The net loss amounted to $1.79 a share, Boeing said. A narrower loss of $636 million for all of 2019 was the first on an annual basis since 1997.

NEW BOEING CEO INHERITS CRISIS CREATED UNDER PREDECESSOR

"We recognize we have a lot of work to do," said CEO David Calhoun, who took over this month as Boeing's third CEO in the past five years, following Muilenburg's ouster last month. "We are focused on returning the 737 Max to service safely and restoring the longstanding trust that the Boeing brand represents with the public."

Calhoun told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo he's confident that the single-aisle airliner, the latest iteration of a plane introduced in the late 1960s, can win Federal Aviation Administration certification by June.

"There's nothing in the process that scares us with respect to the safety of the airplane and, ultimately, delivery of the airplane," he said. The company's timetable is "based on the experience that we've had over the course of the past year in working with the FAA."

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
BABOEING COMPANY340.49-2.33-0.68%
LUVSOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.57.97-0.57-0.97%
AALAMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC.29.20-0.89-2.96%
UALUNITED AIRLINES HLDG.79.55-1.44-1.78%

The 62-year-old's responsibilities include overseeing Boeing's legal strategy as it deals with dozens of lawsuits by families of the 346 people who died in crashes of the 737 Max jetliner in late 2018 and early 2019.

He must also repair Boeing's strained relationship with the FAA and oversee compensation to airline customers who canceled thousands of flights because their Boeing jets were grounded.

The Chicago-based company has reportedly secured $12 billion in loans to carry it through a potential cash crunch after halting deliveries of the 737 Max until regulators approve its return to commercial flight.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has said there's no timetable for that, and U.S airlines that operated the plane -- United, American and Southwest -- have been forced to remove it from their schedules well into this year.

Calhoun emphasized to Bartiromo that the timetable for the 737 Max's return to the skies is ultimately in the government's hands. The agency was criticized last year when it lagged peers worldwide in sidelining the Max while investigators scrutinized the role of new anti-stall software in both crashes.

In the first disaster, in Indonesia, a malfunctioning sensor supplied incorrect data to the software, which attempted to lower the airplane's angle of ascent during takeoff, having wrongly determined that it was steep enough to cause a stall, authorities said.

"I do not want to inflict schedule pressures on the FAA," Calhoun said. "It is their schedule."

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This story has been corrected to show that the loss was the first in 20 years on an annual basis. Boeing's last quarterly loss was in the three months through June.