Boeing 767 chief foresees opportunity, uncertainty

By Kurt Batdorf Herald Business Journal

LYNNWOOD — The Boeing Co. is in a growth mode, but how that growth will change the jetmaker in the years ahead remains to be seen.

Kim Pastega, Boeing vice president and general manager for the 767 program in Everett, gave the keynote speech at Economic Alliance Snohomish County’s annual meeting at the Lynnwood Convention Center on Wednesday.

“This is a transformational time for Boeing,” she told several hundred of the county’s business leaders. “There’s a lot of opportunity and uncertainty.”

Much of Boeing’s upside potential lies in the growing Asia-Pacific and Middle East markets, while much of the uncertainty hovers around the intractable European Union debt crisis, Pastega said. Boeing also faces tighter environmental regulations, changing market demands and possible competition from regional jet makers Bombardier and Embraer, which are looking for a piece of Boeing’s and Airbus’ duopoly on large jets.

The high price of fuel is pushing airlines to update aging fleets with new planes that should be 15 percent to 20 percent more efficient than older ones, Pastega said. That’s one reason Boeing predicts the world’s airlines will need 33,500 new planes valued at up to $4 trillion in the years ahead.

While development of the 767 into the U.S. Air Force’s KC-46A refueling tanker is going very well, Boeing will face strategic decisions as to how to update the popular twin-aisle 777, also built in Everett. Airbus is preparing to launch a competitive A350 and A350-1000.

Though 2011 was a record-setting year for 777 orders, Boeing knows its customers want a more-efficient plane. With the A350 launch, Pastega said, Boeing will have to respond with a re-engineered 777X or a new 787-10X — or possibly both.

“The 777 doesn’t have any real, direct competition now,” she said. “We’re thinking hard about how to improve it.”

The Economic Alliance meeting also featured the presentation of civic and business awards.

Mike Popke, general sales manager of Lynnwood Honda, and his wife, Wendy Nelson-Popke, co-owner of the dealership, received the alliance’s John M. Fluke Sr. Service Award. In November, the dealership donated more than 150 child-car seats to the Swedish Edmonds Birth Center. Both are active on numerous community boards and events.

One nominator said, “Mike and Wendy walk their talk when it comes to the importance of businesses giving back to their communities in Snohomish County.”

Tom Gaffney, a retired managing partner with Moss Adams in Everett, received the Henry M. Jackson Citizen of the Year Award.

“Tom collaborates well with others in getting things done for the good of the community,” one person said in nominating Gaffney. “He is intelligent and thoughtful in how he approaches issues and people.”

The Herald Business Journal presented its inaugural Entrepreneur of the Year award to Jonathan Holbrook, founder and creative director of Tall Taurus Media in Everett.

“Jonathan is enormously involved in the community,” one nominator wrote. “He gives so much of his time and his services that he inspires me and, I’m sure, many others.”

Mark Duffy, founder and CEO of Mountain Pacific Bank, received the newspaper’s annual Executive of the Year Award.

“Mark can be credited with saving local community banking in Snohomish County with his strong character, hard work and determination,” one person wrote in Duffy’s nomination. “His vision and tenacity has inspired those who work with him and attracted scores of banking customers.”

Kurt Batdorf: 425-339-3102,