The head of Airbus left the Paris Air Show in a pretty good mood. His company succeeded in picking up a relatively large number of new orders, although none of them was a blockbuster. According to The New York Times, "Airbus was expected to walk away from the air show with about 110 orders and commitments worth about $6.5 billion."
At Airbus rival Boeing (BA), things are a little tougher. The company is still a long way off from being able to actually deliver its Dreamliner to clients. According to The Wall Street Journal, "Boeing has had to provide concessions to its airline customers because it has missed promised deadlines." Some carriers have canceled orders.
What a difference a couple of years makes. Not so long ago, Airbus was struggling with schedules to launch its super-jumbo plane and was slow to market with its latest mid-range offering. At the same time, Boeing was quickly gathering orders for its 787 and new stretch versions of the 747. In late 2007, the firm's stock traded at $106. It is now less than half of that.
What happened? Horrible management at Boeing. It had to delay the 787 because of problems in delivery of critical parts and other production snafus. Then it broke off negotiations with key manufacturing employees, which caused them to strike. That caused delays in the process of getting the 787 out the door. The maiden flight of the plane was delayed four times.
When the history of Boeing is written, the move from industry leader to troubled company will be blamed on the executives running the company in 2006, 2007, and 2008 -- and it should be.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.