May 24, 2024 - Business

Boeing isn't grounding airline reputations

Line chart showing the Harris 100 reputation scores among airline companies and Boeing from 2015 to 2024. While Boeing’s reputation started high in the high 70s, it dropped in 2020, climbed back up, and fell dramatically again in 2024 to a low of 65.9. Alaska, Delta and Southwest are scored much higher while Spirit scores much lower at 59.1.
Data: Axios Harris Poll 100; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Boeing's corporate reputation took the biggest hit this year, according to the Axios Harris Poll 100, falling 10 points since 2023.

Why it matters: Boeing's quality control issues have not impacted the reputations of the major airlines that operate its jets — like Alaska, Delta and Southwest.

By the numbers: Alaska made the top 100 list for the first time this year, likely in response to its handling of the Boeing crisis.

  • The airline came in at No. 50 with a "good" rating overall. Alaska scored highest on the reputation dimensions of "trust," "vision" and "culture."

What they're saying: Alaska CEO Ben Minicucci used the power of the media to put pressure on Boeing and appeal to the American public.

  • He told NBC Nightly News the issue at question is "what is Boeing going to do differently on their quality program, to make sure that when we get an airplane, it's at the highest degree of excellence and that's what's got to be different going forward."

Southwest Airlines' reputation is starting to recover from the 2022 winter meltdown that left nearly 17,000 holiday flights canceled and over 2 million passengers stranded.

  • Following this operational failure, Southwest's reputation score dropped 7 points — from 78 in 2022 to 71 in 2023. It has since started to trend upwards, making the most inroads on the reputation dimensions of "vision" and "ethics."

Delta's reputation continues to climb, after taking a hit in 2021 after facing criticism for its slow response and pivots on Georgia's voting rights bill.

  • In the three years since, Delta's reputation score has jumped 4 points — from 70.4 to 74.4. The airline scored the highest in the dimensions of "culture," "products and services" and "trajectory."

Context: Missing from the list this year is American Airlines and United Airlines, meaning neither company was regarded as one of the 100 most-visible in 2024.

  • United's reputation was deemed "good," landing it at No. 70 last year.
  • American has not appeared on the list since 2019, when it scored a "fair" rating, coming in at No. 80.

Between the lines: Boeing's reputation was beginning to improve following the 2018-2019 737 Max crashes when the ongoing quality control issues took its reputation score to all-time lows.

  • Coming in at No. 88 on the list, Boeing has a "poor" reputation rating due to its low scores on the dimensions of "trust," "citizenship" and "character."
  • Notably, the manufacturer's "vision" scores highest, with Americans giving it a "good" rating.

What's next: Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun — who was brought in to clean up operations following the 2018-19 crashes — is set to leave the company by the end of 2024.

  • Board chairman Larry Kellner and Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Stan Deal will also exit the company.

Go deeper:

Go deeper