Boeing [BA] on Tuesday said its board has extended the mandatory retirement age for current CEO Dave Calhoun from age 65 to 70, providing stability at the top of the company’s leadership as it continues to navigate the return to service of its 737 MAX commercial aircraft and impacts to operations and global passenger travel from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Calhoun, 64, has been Boeing’s president and CEO since Jan. 2020 after the company let go its former chief, Dennis Muilenburg over his handling of the 737 MAX after two tragic crashes led to the global grounding of the aircraft in March 2019. Airlines began flying the aircraft again in late 2020.
“Under Dave’s strong leadership, Boeing has effectively navigated one of the most challenging and complex periods in its long history,” Larry Kellner, Boeing’s chairman, said in a statement. “His dedication to renewing the company’s commitment to safety, quality and transparency has been critical in building regulator and customer confidence as Boeing returns the 737 MAX to service. And, in the face of unprecedented challenges brought on by the global pandemic, he has taken proactive actions to ensure Boeing remains strongly positioned for the recovery in the aviation industry. Given the substantial progress Boeing has made under Dave’s leadership, as well as the continuity necessary to thrive in our long-cycle industry, the board has determined that it is in the best interests of the company and its stakeholders to allow the board and Dave the flexibility for him to continue in his role beyond the company’s standard retirement age.”
Boeing also said that Greg Smith, the company’s chief financial officer (CFO) and executive vice president for Enterprise Operations, will retire on July 9. Smith, 54, turns 55 in June.
Smith has been with Boeing for 30 years, a tenure briefly interrupted when he took a position with the former Raytheon Co.’s investor relations department. He has been Boeing’s CFO since 2011 and spent a short time as the company’s interim CEO between Muilenburg’s departure and Calhoun becoming CEO.
“The retirement is a loss for BA, in our view, with big shoes to fill for the potential successor,” Jefferies aerospace and defense analyst Sheila Kahyaoglu, wrote in a client note. She also said Smith “was well regarded by investors.”
Smith in a statement said Boeing is “well positioned going forward,” and added that “the timing is right for me personally to begin a new chapter outside of Boeing.”
Boeing has begun a search for Smith’s successor.
The company is scheduled to report first quarter financial results for 2021 next Wednesday.