Boeing seems to be in free fall lately. There were, of course, the tragic crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302--killing all 346 passengers and crew onboard the 737 MAX aircraft--which stunned Boeing and the commercial aviation world. Boeing's fix to the problem that led to the crash has been delayed and there's no definite word yet on when it will be deployed and the grounded jets will be flying once again.

Yesterday, however, Boeing--and the airlines that fly the 737 MAX aircraft--got some really bad news.

According to the results of a survey conducted by Barclays Investment Bank and released yesterday, 44 percent--almost half--of fliers said they would wait for at least one year or more before they would be willing to fly on a Boeing 737 MAX again.

Surprisingly, only 20 percent of fliers surveyed by Barclays said they would fly on a Boeing 737 MAX immediately after it returns to service again.

This is a tremendous marketing and operations problem--not just for Boeing, but for every airline that flies the 737 MAX, including in the U.S. American, United, and Southwest. These airlines are losing millions of dollars as the planes sit on the ground and flights are canceled during the busy summer flying season.

In tandem with the announcement of its survey results, Barclays downgraded its rating for Boeing stock. According to Barclays,

We expect the recovery of 737 MAX production to take longer than expected and our 2019-21 EPS & FCF forecasts are below consensus as a result. Our view is informed by our survey that indicates a large portion of fliers are likely to avoid 737 MAX for an extended period beyond when the grounding is lifted.

Boeing's stock took a hit, falling 1.3 percent in premarket trading from Monday's close of $371.60 a share.

Boeing--and American, United, and Southwest--have a huge marketing challenge ahead of them. How they handle it is going to be very interesting to watch.

Published on: May 8, 2019
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