FRED DUFOUR/AFP via Getty Images
Tianjin Airbus Factory Fred Dufour Afp Via Getty

Virus Hits Planemakers as Airbus, Boeing Shutter China Plants

Feb. 5, 2020
The planemakers' plants are only the latest manufacturers in China to be impacted by the illness' spread.

The aerospace industry is joining carmakers in shuttering Chinese plants in response to the coronavirus outbreak, with Airbus SE halting an assembly line and Boeing Co. and Safran SA also closing facilities.

Airbus’s plant in Tianjin, east of Beijing, has remained idle beyond the Lunar New Year holiday as travel restrictions present logistical challenges and the government advises people to stay home. Engine maker Safran’s operations are closed until Monday in order to minimize any exposure of 2,500 workers to the virus. Both companies said staff are working remotely where possible.

Aerospace firms are following automakers including General Motors Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG in pausing production with China increasingly cut off from the outside world and the number of confirmed cases of the deadly virus approaching 25,000. Boeing, which has a finishing plant in Zhoushan, near Shanghai, also extended its new year shutdown until at least next week.

The China crisis adds to challenges facing planemakers as Airbus battles with a production backlog and Boeing grapples with fallout from grounding its 737 Max model after two fatal crashes. Airbus’s Tianjin plant builds about six A320-series jets a month, or almost 10% of its global single-aisle output.

“Airbus is constantly evaluating the situation and monitoring any potential knock-on effects to production and deliveries,” the company said in a statement, adding that it will adopt alternative plans where necessary.

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