Tuesday was a rough day for U.S. airline stocks, with major airlines sinking 3-5%. One culprit? The loose lips of Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun.
Yesterday, Calhoun was on NBC’s TODAY show and predicted that a major airline would go out of business due to COVID-19.
GUTHRIE: Do you think there might be a major U.S. carrier that just has to go out of business?
CALHOUN: Yes, most likely. You know, something will happen when September comes around.
A Boeing spokesperson told FT that Calhoun was “speaking to the general uncertainty in the sector” but “not about any one particular airline” when he predicted that one airline would go out of business.
The interview also sent Boeing stock in a negative direction, even though Calhoun expressed unqualified confidence in Boeing’s troubled 737 MAX project. See what I did there with one word? Words matter greatly. The language of Calhoun was not constructive, especially when it appears he did not even mean it.
Perhaps Calhoun just stated the obvious: the recovery will be slow and may indeed take more than three years. But to warn that a “major” U.S. airline will “likely” go out of business when you meant something else reminds me of the WWII-era posts in the United Kingdom:
Why? Because Calhoun may actually be in a position to know something more than the general public and his bold prediction might hasten what otherwise may not have occurred.