Boeing CEO Dennis Mullenburg, who had been stripped of the company’s Chairmanship in October, was fired and will be replaced as follows:
- Board Chairman David Calhoun becomes Beoing’s CEO and President effective January 13, 2020.
- Board member Larry Kellner, the Continental Airlines CEO who didn’t want to merge with United and was pushed out in favor of Jeff Smisek (who himself was pushed out in a corruption scandal), will become Boeing’s Chairman. I had previously speculated that he might become interim CEO.
Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith will become interim CEO until January 13 while Calhoun winds down conflicts and other obligations.
The Boeing 737 MAX grounding is expected to cost Boeing as much as $20 billion. The MAX was developed before Mullenburg became CEO, but his tenure includes the two years leading up to the plane’s first commercial launch. There are myriad problems identified in Boeing’s decision-making structure and culture during the course of the MAX’s grounding. A new CEO along doesn’t restore confidence in Boeing, it’s up to the CEO to change the culture.
Calhoun is former CEO of GE Infrastructure and Vice Chairman of GE, which in itself doesn’t suggest he’s well-suited for the role.
Kellner on the other hand worked alongside Gordon Bethune, himself a former Boeing executive, to turn around Continental before succeeding Bethune as Chairman and CEO. He joined the carrier as senior vice president and chief financial officer in 1995, became Executive Vice President a year later, and President in 2001.