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Boeing CEO Said Board Moved Quickly on MAX Safety; New Details Suggest Otherwise

Shareholders’ suit citing internal Boeing documents alleges board didn’t act as fast on safety as CEO David Calhoun said

The MAX crisis and coronavirus pandemic have prompted Boeing to cut production. A Boeing 737 MAX on the assembly line in 2019. When Boeing Co. board had its first formal meeting around seven weeks after the initial 737 MAX crash in late 2018, directors didn’t hold in-depth discussions about the jet’s safety, according to newly released details of internal company documents.

Months later, Boeing’s current chief executive told journalists the company’s directors had moved quickly to address the accident, according to excerpts of company documents contained in a shareholders’ lawsuit.

That and other new information in the suit cast doubt on whether Boeing directors pressed management about safety problems or seriously considered grounding the plane before a second 737 MAX crash in early 2019.

Parts of the internal Boeing documents, which indicate dates and particulars of meetings the directors held and what was discussed, are cited in the shareholders’ action claiming directors breached their fiduciary duties in overseeing management. The suit also alleges David Calhoun, then the lead-director who later became CEO, exaggerated to journalists the degree to which directors attended to safety concerns between and in the wake of the two crashes.

The suit alleges that Mr. Calhoun, who became CEO in early 2020, conducted a public-relations campaign that “insisted the board acted with more urgency and was more engaged than it actually had been” following the two crashes that killed 346 people in October 2018 and March 2019. The suit cites internal Boeing emails and other documents that weren’t previously public.

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Is Boeing Too Late to Build a Midrange Plane?

Jet maker may be reviving plans for a new aircraft to serve medium-haul flights, but the story of the Boeing 757 shows that timing can be everything

Boeing’s ambitions for a midrange plane may be the right idea at the wrong time—again. Last year, the Chicago-based manufacturer started conversations with customers about building such a jet with a single-aisle cabin. Then, during the fourth-quarter earnings presentation in late January, Chief Executive David Calhoun all but confirmed that the company’s next jet would indeed address the “middle of the market” between long international flights and short-haul domestic ones.

This appears to end speculation that Boeing could prioritize a replacement for the troubled 737 MAX, which is now flying again. It is a good call not to undermine MAX sales with talk of a substitute.

Last week, the buzz increased after trade journal Aviation Week reported that the new jet could instead be a two-aisle model, reviving the so-called New Midsize Airplane project that Boeing abandoned when Mr. Calhoun took over last year. This time, though, the program wouldn’t just have two variants seating 225 and 275 people, but also a third, smaller one.

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China Complains of U.S. Harassment of Chinese Airline and Ship Crews

Beijing says it lodged complaints about questioning of arriving workers about Communist Party membership

HONG KONG—China accused American officials of harassing Chinese airline and shipping crews that arrive in the U.S. in attempts to single out Communist Party members, and warned that Beijing may retaliate against Washington for what it considers to be provocative behavior.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said U.S. law-enforcement personnel have recently conducted surprise raids on sailors aboard arriving Chinese ships and questioned arriving Chinese airline crews to ascertain whether they are members of the Communist Party. She didn’t offer details.

Ms. Hua, speaking at a routine briefing on Monday, denounced such enforcement actions as a severe political provocation designed to “provoke ideological confrontation.”

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Thanksgiving Draws Travel to a Pandemic Peak

Airport screenings were elevated this weekend, and some chose to drive rather than fly

Many would-be fliers opted to remain at home or drive. Travelers at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on Sunday. 

The weekend after Thanksgiving met expectations that it would be the busiest travel period in the U.S. since the coronavirus pandemic began, aided by clement weather and lower gas prices that encouraged some to drive rather than fly.

Almost 50 million people were expected to have made a journey during the Thanksgiving holidays, said AAA, despite tightening local clampdowns and warnings from federal health officials. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Nov. 19 recommended people not travel over Thanksgiving.

The number of travelers from Nov. 25 through Nov. 29 was down more than 10% from a record set last year, according to AAA, which includes flights and road trips of more than 50 miles. Airlines, which boosted capacity earlier in the month only to trim flying when cancellations started to climb in recent weeks, said traveler numbers were in line with their revised expectations.

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