Washington — US President Donald Trump has urged Boeing to fix and rebrand its 737 MAX jetliner following two fatal crashes, as regulators worldwide continue to work with the planemaker to review its grounded best-selling aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Administration has been meeting major airlines and convened a joint review with aviation regulators from other countries, while federal prosecutors, the US department of transportation inspector-general’s office and a blue-ribbon panel are reviewing the plane’s certification.
In an early-morning post on Twitter, Trump, who owned the Trump Shuttle airline from 1989 to 1992 and is an aviation enthusiast, weighed in with his own advice.
“What do I know about branding, maybe nothing (but I did become president!), but if I were Boeing, I would fix the Boeing 737 MAX, add some additional great features, & rebrand the plane with a new name. No product has suffered like this one. But again, what the hell do I know?” he tweeted.
The plane’s grounding has also threatened the US summer travel season, with some airlines removing the 737 from their schedules.
Trump issued the tweet as Boeing tries to restore trust in its fastest-selling jet, the main source of profits and cash at the Chicago-based planemaker which has won 5,000 orders or around seven years of production for the aircraft.
CEO Dennis Muilenburg has apologised on behalf of Boeing for lives lost in two recent accidents and promised that it would address the risk that flight software meant to prevent the plane stalling could be activated by wrong data.
Boeing has also held dozens of briefings and simulator sessions for airline executives and pilots and held worldwide meetings with airline branding and communications staff.
Pilots are expected to play a major role in regaining public confidence in the aircraft, but Trump’s tweet marks the first time the brand underpinning Boeing profits in coming years has been thrown into question at a high level.
Brand Finance, a UK-based consultancy that tracks the value of global brands, rejected the idea that Boeing should abandon the MAX brand but said its corporate reputation was in the firing line.
“This has without a doubt damaged Boeing’s reputation and we foresee a dent to the (Boeing) brand’s value at over $12bn,” CEO David Haigh said. “This is a temporary blip in the long run for Boeing,” he said, adding Toyota and others had recovered from similar high-profile crises without a drastic rebranding exercise.
Brand Finance had previously estimated the damage to the value of Boeing’s reputation at $7.5bn immediately after the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jetliner, the second fatal accident involving the 737 MAX in five months.
Boeing has the world’s most valuable aerospace brand, having seen the value of its overall corporate image rise by 61% to $32bn in 2018, according to the same branding firm.