Boeing's reputation hits new low, posts annual loss

Thousands of reassigned workers, a tragic air disaster in Iran, the release of embarrassing emails, and details of its ex-CEO's pay have added up to a miserable month for Boeing's reputation.

A grounded American Airlines 737 Max (©GettyImages)
A grounded American Airlines 737 Max (©GettyImages)

The company posted its first annual loss since 1997 earlier today (Wednesday), due to the 737 Max crisis.

The reputation intelligence company alva has revealed that, on a scale of -100 to 100, with 0 being neutral, Boeing’s average reputation score for January 2020 is -71.

The company’s daily reputation score dropped by 61 points in just six days earlier this month thanks to a series of related negative stories falling just a few days apart.

On 6 January, Boeing reassigning thousands of 737 Max workers, this was followed by the destruction of a Ukrainian International Airlines plane by a missile in Iran, and the release of damaging internal emails showing executives "mocked their regulator and joked about safety" on 9 January.

It was also revealed that former CEO Dennis Muilenberg "left the company with stock options and other assets worth about $80m" when he left in December last year.

By comparison, Boeing had an average reputation score of -56 in the month of March 2019, the month that the Ethiopian Airlines crash took place, the second such incident resulting from a software flaw in its 737 Max airliner.

The company’s previous lowest monthly average score was in April last year, when it acknowledged the software flaw in its flight control system and scored -62. Its single-day score has been -90 and below 12 times since January 2019, alva data shows.

Alastair Pickering, alva's co-founder and chief strategy officer, said: "This has without a doubt been a disastrous month for Boeing, even in comparison to the previous ten months. But it also illustrates an important point about how companies in crisis experience continuous reputational damage.

"Because the weight of public opinion is already against Boeing and there is a pre-existing media narrative of the firm being in crisis, any subsequent reputational hit damages the firm much more heavily than one without that background of negativity."

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