Opinion: Will Boeing Become The Next McDonnell Douglas?

Richard Aboulafia, writing for Aviation Week:

Douglas Aircraft started down a 30-year path toward extinction when it merged with McDonnell in 1967. McDonnell management prioritized military programs and was not willing to make the investment necessary to maintain its commercial jetliner market position. By the time it merged with Boeing, Douglas’ jetliner products were on their last legs.

It has been nearly 25 years since Boeing and McDonnell Douglas merged. Given Boeing’s significant engineering cuts, program execution problems, clear prioritization of shareholder returns, extremely uncertain product development road map and deteriorating market share outlook, it is time to consider whether Boeing Commercial Aircraft (BCA) is destined to share Douglas’ fate. Three criteria are key.

Boeing might survive for several decades yet, but that depends on a) Airbus not making any further inroads into Boeing’s markets, b) no new competitor(s) entering the market. Neither of those can be discounted. And while it’s not mentioned in the article, I suspect climate change will eventually force a rethink of the whole business of air travel.