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Boeing CEO faces long to-do list to collect bonus

Chicago 

BOEING Co's new chief executive officer Dave Calhoun stands to reap a US$7 million bonus once the planemaker finally gets the grounded 737 Max jetliner back in the air. But there's a catch, according to a company filing.

To collect, he must also resolve lingering issues with the aerospace titan's other problem-plagued programmes. That means achieving the first human flight of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft and ending the production woes bedeviling the KC-46 tanker, which have drawn the Pentagon's ire.

Also on his to-do list: successfully guiding the 777X, Boeing's first new jetliner to follow the Max, through regulatory review and into the commercial market. Then there's the task of restructuring Boeing's engineering corps and hitting long-range milestones for the company's services division.

If the US manufacturer hasn't substantially achieved these milestones by the end of 2023, Mr Calhoun will forfeit the payout, Boeing said in a filing on Monday that revealed the terms of his Jan 10 hiring agreement. Mr Calhoun, 62, also received a US$10.9 million annual target compensation and an additional US$10 million award of restricted stock that vests over three years.

Mr Calhoun's bonus drew criticism when it was initially announced as he replaced Dennis Muilenburg, who was ousted after repeatedly missing targets for ending a global flying ban on the Max following two fatal accidents.

Three Democratic senators argued that the new CEO would have a financial incentive to pressure regulators into clearing the aircraft for flight and said the bonus showed Boeing was prioritising profit over safety.

In a response, Boeing said that aligning part of Mr Calhoun's pay with "the safe return to service of the Max" is in the best interest of the company and passengers, and won't run counter to prioritising safety.

But the lawmakers fired back, saying the company's response was "completely inadequate" and calling on Boeing to cancel the award immediately. That would ensure Mr Calhoun has no incentive to rush the plane back into the sky, they said. BLOOMBERG