Boeing expects supply chain issues to last for considerable time

Boeing expects supply chain problems to persist almost until the end of 2023.

The issues continue to be led by labour shortages at mid-tier and smaller suppliers, partly due to the faster-than-expected return of demand, its CEO said.

Boeing said last month that production of its 737 aircraft had been slowed by shortages of a single type of wiring connector, while some of its airline customers had been forced to cancel flights due to a lack of staff in the post-pandemic recovery.  

“The shift from demand to now supply issues … is remarkable, the speed with which it happened,” Boeing CEO David Calhoun said at Bloomberg’s Qatar Economic Forum in Doha.

He said Boeing had a big, complicated supply chain with lots of fragility in it, leading to problems when there were delays.

“It’s been a real issue for both manufacturers and will probably stay that way in my view almost to the end of next year,” Calhoun said.

“And the biggest restraint of all for that mid-tier set of suppliers and sub-tier set of suppliers is labour availability, do we have a workforce,” he said.

Despite Boeing’s gloomy assessment, others in the market have been more upbeat.

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury, for example, said at the ILA Berlin Air Show trade fair this week he expects supply bottlenecks to ease from mid-2023 as crises have usually lasted 12 to 18 months previously.

However, he stressed that nobody can make such predictions with certainty. 

Recently it was reported that engine maker CFM International, a joint venture between GE and Safran, was facing industrial delays of six to eight weeks in the wake of supply-chain problems.