Boeing’s new CEO, David Calhoun, told CNBC on Wednesday that he’s confident that regulators will permit the 737 Max to return to service by the middle of 2020.
Last week, Boeing gave airlines and suppliers that same timetable, which was months later than the company previously expected.
“Mid-year is what we think we can do,” said Calhoun, a longtime Boeing board member and former Blackstone executive, took over as chief executive officer on Jan. 13, following the firing of Dennis Muilenburg.
“We put together a schedule we think we can make,” Calhoun said on “Squawk Box,” adding the company does not plan to change the name of the jet.
“I’m not going to market my way out of this,” he explained. “The Max has something attached to it today, but again, we believe this airplane is safer than the safest airplane flying today.”
If the Federal Aviation Administration, which has not yet said when it will clear the plane for flight, provides more information, Boeing will change its timeline, Calhoun said.
The American jetmaker earlier Wednesday reported its first annual loss in more than two decades as it deals with increasing costs from the 737 Max crisis.
Boeing posted a fourth-quarter loss of $2.33 per share, while quarterly revenue dropped 37% to $17.9 billion.
The company has been under intense scrutiny after two of its 737 Max jets fatally crashed within five months of one another, leading to the mid-March grounding of the entire fleet.
The ongoing global grounding has also dented airlines’ profits, rippled throughout Boeing’s supply chain and even the broader economy.
Earlier this month, Boeing suspended production of the 737 Max.
However, Calhoun said the company is keeping employees on with the intention that they’ll return to the assembly lines soon.
“If we didn’t believe that we were going to field an airplane that was safer than the safest airplane out today, we wouldn’t do it,” he reiterated.
Looking to shore up its balance sheet, Boeing secured commitments of more than $12 billion in financing from more than a dozen banks, according to people familiar with the matter.
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