This is the second in a series of articles examining how labor, Boeing and Washington state could move forward following the COVID pandemic. The first article is here.
By Bryan Corliss
Nov. 30, 2020, © Leeham News — You might want to set yourself an Outlook calendar reminder for January 2024.
It’s going to be a pivotal year for Boeing, its home state and its workforce. By then, the company’s recovery from the current Covid-caused crisis should be underway, with the order book refilling.
The countdown should be on for the long-delayed roll-out of the reconceived NMA, at long last giving Boeing a real counter to the Airbus A321. And — barring a surge in 737 MAX orders after its return to service — Boeing could be close to making some tough decisions about the future of the 737 program, thinking hard about whether after 60 years it’s finally time to design and build a clean-sheet replacement.
Also by then, the 787 program will have fully consolidated into Charleston, and the last 747 will have departed the Paine Field flight line, leaving The World’s Largest Building (By Volume) half-empty.
Then, in January 2024, Boeing’s contract with its touch-labor union – IAM District 751 – will expire, after a 10-year extension that was part of the price Machinists paid to ensure the 777X would be assembled in Everett. For the first time since the summer of 2008, the two sides will sit down at a bargaining table with the union having the ability to call for a strike.
What happens between now and January 2024 will pretty much decide the future of Boeing in Washington state. If the players are clear-eyed and rational, we could see a return to the days when high-skilled workers built high-quality planes that created handsome profits for Boeing shareholders and family-wage jobs for Boeing workers.
By Scott Hamilton
Feb. 07, 2020, © Leeham News: A trade secret theft lawsuit against the giant insurance company Xavian Holdings involving an insurance funding program for Boeing airplanes was settled last month under undisclosed terms.
Marsh and Boeing were sued in 2018 by Xavian, which claimed it created the plan and undertook all the research for a concept that it presented to Boeing under a trade secret/non-disclosure agreement.
The Boeing lawsuit is pending.
The concept was intended to replace funding previously provided by the US ExIm Bank. Congress refused to renew the bank’s authority to fund deals of the size required for Boeing airplanes.
Robert Morin of the US ExIm Bank, who was aware of Xavian’s efforts, later went to work for Marsh, taking with him information obtained under the Xavian plan, Xavian claimed—hence the lawsuit against Marsh.
In court documents in New York, the federal court in the Southern District ordered mediation. Documents reveal a settlement was reached, but terms were not disclosed. Court approval of the settlement is pending.
Update, Sept. 14: Marsh plans to continue AFIC despite the lawsuit.
“Since its launch, AFIC has given clients greater choice by contributing significantly to the development and diversification of aircraft finance globally. We stand fully behind it and will defend this case vigorously,” the company wrote in an email to LNC. Boeing declined comment, deferring to Marsh.
Sept. 12, 2018, © Leeham News: The trade secret theft lawsuits filed yesterday by Xavian Insurance and Xavian Holdings against The Boeing Co., Boeing Capital Corp., Marsh & McLennan and Marsh USA strike at the very heart of business plan intended to replace the virtually closed US ExIm Bank financing that Boeing used to rely upon.
It also potentially does so at a similar business plan Marsh created to support Airbus sales.
It’s impossible to assess the validity of the claims, but the lawsuits certainly paint a bleak picture of events—as plaintiffs do when they file one.
The Xavian-Boeing lawsuit may be found here: Xavian_Boeing_Complaint.
March 5, 2018, © Leeham Co.: Global financing for new and used aircraft is as robust as it’s ever been, says the president of Boeing Capital Corp.
Tim Myers, speaking to reporters on a telephone press conference today, said new sources of financing, more of it and innovative structures are here to support record levels of aircraft deliveries and used aircraft financings.
Even so, he calls for the reinstatement of the US ExIm Bank as a source of funding support in the future.
April 13, 2017, © Leeham Co.: President Donald Trump reversed himself and now supports the US Export-Import Bank, according to news reports. He will appoint
two people to long-standing vacancies to allow ExIm to approve deals more than $10m.
ExIm, Trump now says, is a profit center for the US Treasurer.
His sudden understanding on this revelation is like his eye-opening realization that dealing with the North Korean situation isn’t easy.
Supporters of ExIm pointed out for years that the Bank returns money to the US Treasury.
Feb. 20, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Boeing may have won over President Trump about the virtues of ExIm Bank (it’s not entirely clear), but he’s the wrong target.
It’s US Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) who’s been holding up appointments to the ExIm Board of Directors, blocking a quorum needed to approve aircraft financing guarantees on anything more than $10m.
Shelby was the chairman of a key US Senate committee which had direct authority over ExIm Bank appointments. Shelby blocked appointments under President Obama, claiming ExIm is an agency of corporate welfare, of which Boeing was the principal beneficiary.
However, Shelby was once a supporter of ExIm. After Obama was elected, the rise of the so-called Tea Party (largely to oppose all things Obama) targeted ExIm as a wasteful government agency. (Never mind that ExIm returned a surplus to the Treasury since its Depression-era inception though its fees.)
More to the point: Boeing rival Airbus selected Mobile (AL) for a new assembly site, first for the planned US Air Force tanker, the KC-330 based on the Airbus A330-200. The contract award was vitiated after it was determined the USAF treated Boeing unfairly.
Boeing won the re-bid. Airbus then chose Mobile as its US assembly site for the A320 commercial jet family.
As LNC reported in November, it’s hardly a coincidence that Shelby—a supporter of Airbus in Mobile—blocked the ExIm appointments ever since.
With the elections last year, Shelby moved on from his chairmanship of the Senate committee oversight of ExIm.
But he still will block ExIm Board appointments, an Alabama city official who knows Shelby told LNC.
Under US Senate rules, a Senator can put a “hold” on nominations for any reason that require Senate approval.
Shelby appears ready to continue his hold.
Ironically, Boeing is a big employer in Alabama—but in defense, not commercial aerospace.
Jan. 4, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Despite a rosy picture painted by Boeing about the future of the 787 and the ability to recover more than $29bn in deferred production
and tooling costs, there are signs that cause concerns over the next 3-5 years.
Aug. 18, 2016, © Leeham Co. The US Congress reauthorized the ExIm Bank after a long effort to kill the institution. But the Bank remains out of business for transactions for more than $10m. This means Boeing can’t use the Bank for export financing for purchasers of its 7-Series airplanes.
Because the Bank doesn’t have a quorum for its Board of Directors.
Because one US Senator is blocking appointments that would put the Bank back in business.
Who is this Senator?
Richard Shelby of Alabama. Shelby once supported ExIm Bank. Now he doesn’t.
According to news reports, Shelby became a convert to the extreme right’s view that ExIm is a form of corporate welfare and Boeing is its primary recipient. Boeing doesn’t need this support, Bank opponents say.
LNC believes there might be another reason.
Alabama is where Boeing rival Airbus opened an A320 assembly plant last year.
April 18, 2016, © Leeham Co.: Export Credit for airliners was back in the news last week, with the US taking aim at the prospect of Canada’s agency supporting sales of the Bombardier C Series to the US and France and Germany suspending export credit support for Airbus airplanes.
The week before, Dennis Muilenburg, the CEO of The Boeing Co., testified before Congress that although the US ExIm Bank was reauthorized, Senate action—or more accurately, inaction—on confirming members of the ExIm Board of Directors has kept the agency shut down for new deals. There isn’t a quorum of members on the Board to approve new deals.
“Lessors are a key and integral part of our strategy,” Leahy said. Airbus only financed 2% of its own products last year. Export Credit Agencies financed only half the numbers of Boeing, he said.
Leahy does not see a downturn any time soon.