Alaska CEO Ben Minicucci also told NBC News that in-house inspections of the Boeing 737 Max 9 revealed “many” loose bolts.
Alaska Airlines’ CEO said he was “angry” at Boeing after a door panel on a 737 Max 9 blew out mid-air.
“I am angry. This happened to Alaska Airlines,” Alaska CEO Ben Minicucci said in an interview for NBC News’ “Nightly News With Lester Holt” on Tuesday. “It happened to our guests and happened to our people. And — my demand on Boeing is what are they going to do to improve their quality programs in-house.”
During the interview, Minicucci also said in-house inspections of the Max 9 revealed “many” loose bolts. The Federal Aviation Administration grounded the Max 9 after the incident with Alaska’s flight and it’s unclear when the plane will be able to return to service.
Alaska and United are the only two carriers in the U.S. that operate the Max 9. Alaska has 65 Max 9s, and like United, has canceled hundreds of flights daily because of the grounding. The FAA also launched a formal investigation into Boeing’s quality control on January 15.
Minicucci’s comments add to the growing chorus of criticism of Boeing, which has faced numerous issues with its 737 Max fleet. Earlier on Tuesday, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said in a CNBC interview that he was frustrated by the Max 10 delivery delays and Max 9 grounding.
“I think this is the straw, the Max 9 groundings, probably the straw, that broke the camel’s back for us,” Kirby said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “We’re gonna at least build a plan that doesn’t have the Max 10 in it.”
Stan Deal, CEO of Boeing Commercial Aircraft, said in a statement the company was “deeply sorry for the significant disruption” to Alaska.
“We are taking action on a comprehensive plan to bring these airplanes safely back to service and to improve our quality and delivery performance,” Deal said in a statement. “We will follow the lead of the FAA and support our customers every step of the way.”
The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the incident. Minicucci told NBC News he believed the carrier “received a plane from Boeing with a faulty door.”
“Now the NTSB investigation is going to figure out why that was a faulty door, whether it was bad installation, missing hardware, a manufacturing issue,” Minicucci said, “but there’s no doubt that Alaska received an airplane off the production line with a faulty door.”
It is unclear how much the Max 9 groundings have financially impacted the carrier’s operations. Alaska is set to report fourth-quarter results on January 25.