Boeing extends potential term for CEO before annual meeting

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Boeing’s board of directors has raised the mandatory retirement age for CEO David Calhoun from 65 to 70, just days after he turned 64.

Calhoun, who celebrated a birthday Sunday, has been CEO since January 2020. He replaced Dennis Muilenburg, who was ousted amid a crisis over two deadly crashes of the company’s 737 Max jetliner.

The company also announced that Chief Financial Officer Gregory Smith, 54, will retire in July, and a search has begun for a successor. Smith has spent more than 30 years at the company.

The announcements were made shortly before the company’s annual shareholder meeting, which is being conducted online. A proxy advisory firm has recommended that shareholders vote against re-electing Chairman Larry Kellner and another board member.

Boeing lost more than $11.9 billion last year as the extended grounding of all its Max jets and then the pandemic led to a plunge in aircraft orders and deliveries.

Max jets worldwide were grounded for nearly two years until late 2020, when regulators in the United States and many other countries approved changes Boeing made to a flight-control system implicated in the crashes, which killed 346 people. China, the plane’s single largest market, has not yet allowed the planes to resume flying.

“Boeing has effectively navigated one of the most challenging and complex periods in its long history.” Kellner said in a prepared statement. Calhoun, he said, has increased confidence in the company among regulators and airline customers.

After the rough stretch, a desire for continuity drove the board to allow Calhoun to stay in the job, Kellner said, potentially until early 2028.

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