“While I know cash is tight, that is equally true for numerous other industries and for millions of small businesses,” she said in the letter, which Boeing included in a regulatory filing. “I cannot support a move to lean on the federal government for a stimulus or bailout that prioritizes our company over others and relies on taxpayers to guarantee our financial position.”
In a statement, a Boeing spokesman said, “We appreciate her service on the board and wish her well.” A spokeswoman for Haley declined to comment beyond the resignation letter or make her available for comment.
President Trump said at a news conference Tuesday that he supports a bailout for Boeing, which has been reeling from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and a prolonged safety crisis involving its flagship commercial jetliner.
Boeing said earlier this week it would support $60 billion in assistance for the aerospace industry. The federal aid would help Boeing pay suppliers “to maintain the health of the supply chain,” the company said.
“We appreciate the support of the President and the Administration for the 2.5 million jobs and 17,000 suppliers that Boeing relies on to remain the number one US exporter, and we look forward to working with the Administration and Congress as they consider legislation and the appropriate policies,” Gordon Johndroe, vice president of communications at Boeing, said in a statement sent to reporters.
The aerospace industry was not mentioned in a massive economic stimulus bill introduced by Senate Republicans on Thursday, which includes $50 billion in “loans and loan guarantees” for passenger airlines; $8 billion for “cargo air carriers”; and $150 billion for other “eligible businesses,” a category administration officials have suggested could include the hotel and cruise industries.
Boeing’s request for governmental help comes as global air traffic is expected to decline and airline customers plan to push off new orders of jets. On March 13, the company drew out the full amount of its $13.8 billion private loan, citing concerns about whether it would have access to cash should the markets worsen. It also halted new hires.
Although Boeing’s size has allowed it to absorb historic losses for the time being, some of the company’s suppliers have been forced to lay off employees. Spirit AeroSystems, among Boeing’s most vulnerable suppliers, is relying on Boeing to keep buying fuselages and other raw materials for the Max even though Boeing’s production lines are paused.
The company’s stock price dropped 36 percent last week, closing at $95 per share Friday. Even with uncertainty created by the grounding of its flagship 737 Max jet, the company’s stock was trading above $340 per share about five weeks ago.
Haley joined Boeing’s board a year ago, just after the second crash of a Max jet sent the company into a crisis. Before joining the board, she had opposed efforts by Boeing employees to unionize in South Carolina when she was governor of the state.
Boeing’s board has been criticized for not providing enough independent oversight of the company’s leadership. Last year, responding to these concerns, the company established an independent board chairman with more authority over Boeing’s chief executive. Two months later, the board pushed out CEO Dennis Muilenburg and replaced him with the chairman, David Calhoun.
Jeff Stein and Aaron Gregg contributed to this report.