French Official Says He Avoids Boeing Planes At All Costs

France’s Finance Minister has added to the growing problems of aircraft giant Boeing by stating that he avoids using its planes for safety reasons. Bruno Le Maire declared that he chooses Boeing’s rival Airbus whenever possible, praising the European manufacturer as superior and safer. Le Maire made the remarks during an event in Berlin, where Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury was present. The Minister furthermore lauded European innovation more broadly, saying the continent produced “the best machine tools, the best planes, the best cars, the best chemicals.”

Michael O’Leary, the owner of Irish low-cost market leader Ryanair, called Le Maire’s comments “silly” and “ill-advised” before labeling him a “stupid politician.” He noted the grounding of Airbus planes in February following inspections that discovered engine faults. New York-based Jet Blue announced it would ground eleven Airbus aircraft this year, detrimentally impacting its growth plans for 2024.

Mr. O’Leary did, however, criticize America’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for “rubber-stamping” Boeing. In 2020, US Senators also alleged that the FAA rubber-stamps the US plane manufacturer and accused the agency of keeping Congress “in the dark.”

A Senate Commerce Committee hearing condemned the FAA for failing to hand over documents in the year since investigations opened into the company’s safety practices, specifically regarding its 737 Max range. The investigations were prompted by two major accidents in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people. Democrat Tom Udall of New Mexico said Boeing was engaged in self-certification, which the FAA approved without sufficient oversight.

Boeing’s safety record was scrutinized again in 2024, starting in January when a 737 Max 9 passenger jet lost a rear door immediately after takeoff from Portland, Oregon. The FAA ordered the grounding of dozens of the same aircraft, lasting several weeks. Alaska Airlines and United Airlines revealed they discovered “loose parts” on the grounded planes.

On January 12, the FAA announced a formal investigation into 737 production lines and said it would take back safety analysis work previously outsourced to manufacturers.