Boeing said it hopes to resume aircraft production at factories in Washington state early next week, closed amid the Covid-19 crisis, as the firm is reeling from both the pandemic fallout and the ongoing problems with its 737 Max.
The company’s Puget Sound-area facilities north of Seattle could start back up by April 20, Boeing said in a statement on Thursday, putting some 27,000 employees back to work in several stages next week.
Production of the 737, 747, 767 and 777 aircraft will resume first, seeing most workers return between April 20 and April 21, while employees building the 787 will get back to work three days later.
Boeing shuttered its Washington plants indefinitely in late March over the coronavirus pandemic, putting thousands of staff out of work for over three weeks. The company later closed its South Carolina factory, suspending the majority of its commercial aircraft production, but has yet to announce plans to reopen that plant.
The problem-plagued 737 Max – grounded worldwide last year after a series of lethal crashes that left 346 people dead – is also set to resume production, despite reports this week that another 150 orders had been cancelled for the troubled airliner in March alone. A series of technical and safety issues have kept the Max grounded for months, despite repeated optimistic predictions from company executives that it would soon be back in the air.
Deliveries are down across the board for Boeing aircraft this year – largely thanks to the ongoing global pandemic, which has devastated demand for air travel – with the company stating it delivered only 50 planes in the first quarter of 2020, compared to the 149 in the first quarter of last year. The health crisis has also forced Boeing to cut production output, some reports suggesting by up to 40 percent, and slash its workforce by some 10 percent. The aircraft manufacturer is now pursuing aid from the federal government, after requesting a $60 billion bailout for the aerospace industry at large.
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