In Brief

Sacked Boeing boss departs with $80m payout

High-profile departure comes as company faces further crisis over its Max 737 aircraft

The former boss of Boeing, who was ousted last month in the midst of the biggest crisis in the company’s history, is set to depart with a potential $80m (£61.3m) payout.

Dennis Muilenburg lost his job due to the ongoing crisis around the 737 MAX, the best-selling aircraft in the company’s history. The aircraft was grounded in March after two crashes in less than six months that killed 346 people.

According to the Financial Times, his “compensation benefits totals $62.2m (£47.5m)”, while he also has “vested stock options from 2013 totalling $18.5m (£14.1m)”.

“The fallout for Boeing has been immense” says Fox News. As well as forcing out Muilenburg in December, other senior executives have been grilled over the deadly crashes by members of the US Congress. The company has faced severe reputational damage and a hit to its bottom line.

But Muilenburg has been the public face of the crisis, and The Independent says his compensation “was the source of heated exchanges during his testimony before Congress in October”.

When asked by a congressman whether he was “taking a cut in pay” or “working for free from now on until you can cure this problem?”, Muilenburg noted that the board determines his pay.

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In yet another blow to Boeing, it was this weekend announced that US regulators are seeking to fine the company $5.4m (£4.14m) for “knowingly” installing faulty parts on 737 Max planes. It comes after the release of internal messages raised more questions about the jet's safety.

“These messages refer to Boeing employees telling lies, covering up problems and treating regulators with contempt” says BBC business correspondent Theo Legett.

“They reinforce the impression - already expressed vividly by whistleblowers and in Congressional hearings - that Boeing was a company that had lost its way, focused on maximising production and keeping costs down, rather than on safety.”

Boeing’s woes appear to have impacted the entire US economy, after the Treasury Secretary Tim Mnuchin said growth this year “would have been 3%” were is not for “adjustment of the Boeing numbers”.

The 737 Max situation could cut first quarter 2020 GDP growth by approximately half a percentage point, according to economists’ estimates cited by Reuters.

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