The Paris Air Show kicked off earlier this week, and the most awkward guest at the party appears to be Boeing, the airplane maker that’s been scrambling since March to fix a software glitch that’s being blamed for two fatal plane crashes.
And the fix truly can’t come quick enough. The FAA has grounded the plane at the heart of the disasters – the 737 Max 8 – and Boeing’s biggest airline customers are mired in delays due to the airplane shortage. In fact, several of those big customers, including Delta and American Airlines, made deals with Boeing rival Airbus on the first day of the show, while Boeing netted zero new orders.
In speaking to reporters at Paris, Boeing’s CEO of commercial aircraft Kevin McAllister apologized not only “for the loss of lives” but also for the disruptions the airlines were facing and how it was impacting summer travel.
And while it’s hustling to try to fix the problem in a way that satisfies regulators, customers and travelers alike, Boeing has no timetable for when the plane will fly again. So, what else can they do in the meantime?
Bloomberg has reported that Boeing’s CFO Greg Smith told reporters the company remains “open-minded” to changes that will help restore the infamous plane, one of which might be a rebrand – meaning, the company could actually change the plane’s name.
However you feel about this tactic, it wouldn’t be the first time a company tried to skirt bad publicity by slapping a new name on something – let us not forget that the cancer non-profit Livestrong was once called the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Boeing says its most immediate objective is not a re-brand, rather, it’s getting the plane back in the air safely, and re-earning the trust of the airlines and traveling public. And while it seems Boeing is acknowledging a pretty real threat – what if nobody wants to get on the planes even after they’ve been fixed? – is it considered “re-earning trust” when you just slap a new name on the plane?
Heck, maybe they won’t need to. Day 2 of the Paris Show resulted in a win for Boeing, who netted a letter of intent from International Airlines Group for 200 737s, the company’s first order for the jetliner since the fatal March crash.