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Boeing Will Keep Washington, South Carolina Plants Closed Until Further Notice

April 6, 2020
The aviation manufacturer had plans as late as last Friday to open factories on April 7.

This article has been updated to include the information on Boeing's South Carolina operations.

Boeing Co. released new information over the weekend on its planned scheduling for reopening its Washington plants. On April 5, Boeing said they would extend the temporary suspension of production at its Puget Sound and Moses Lake locations until further notice. Later that day, they made a separate announcement for Boeing South Carolina operations, stating that operations there would be suspended effective Wednesday, April 8.

Stan Deal, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO, said in a statement that the safety of employees was a shared priority. “We will take this time to continue to listen to our incredible team and assess applicable government direction,” he said.

The updated schedule comes after a week in which Boeing announced it would buy out employee contracts in order to avoid normal layoffs in a period where manufacturing and airline suppliers in particular have been hit hard by the coronavirus, which has grounded fliers and closed factories. Washington state was an early epicenter for the pandemic in the United States, especially Seattle; Boeing’s Washington facilities are mainly located in the greater Seattle area.

Boeing made the “voluntary layoff” buyback announcement on April 2. At the time, the Chicago-based planemaker still had plans to re-open its Washington facilities for an evening shift on April 7. Boeing’s other factories appear to be suspending production on individual schedules.

Production at the plane maker’s Ridley Township facility in Philadelphia was suspended for two weeks following April 3. Non-site-critical work at a guidance repair center in Heath, Ohio was suspended for 14 days starting March 27: Pending future announcements, production there is expected to resume Friday, April 10. And Boeing’s shared locations with NASA in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana have been closed to non-mission critical operations since middle to late March, with no announced date as yet to reopen.

Boeing is likely to receive some sizable financial support in the coming few weeks from the government. $17 billion of the $2.2 trillion bill passed three weeks ago was earmarked for “firms vital to maintaining national security,” a phrase used to describe Boeing in other legislation. The money is likely to come in the form of large government loans. 

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