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Boeing Announces It Will Resume Seattle Area Production

April 16, 2020
27,000 Boeing employees will return to work by April 24 in Washington State.

Boeing Co. announced April 16 that they would resume production at their Puget Sound-region facilities as early as April 20. Last week, on April 5, they announced their factories there would remain closed until further notice after production was suspended there in March as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 27,000 Boeing employees work at the factories in that region, which construct the 737, 747, 767, 777 and 787 model commercial airplanes.

The employees won’t all come back at once, though. Workers on all models except for the 787 will begin coming back beginning with the third shift on Monday, April 20. Employees working on the 787 will start work again on the third shift April 23 later that week. The move comes later in the week after Boeing resumed defense production operations in the region, which employ about 2,500 people. Boeing’s South Carolina operations are to remain suspended.

In order to keep employees safe from the coronavirus, Boeing says they will implement enhanced cleaning practices, physical distancing, and face coverings. The Chicago-based aerospace manufacturer will enforce those measures using staggered shift times, floor markings, providing protective equipment to employees who can’t distance themselves, performing temperature screening, and installing additional hand-washing stations in high-traffic areas.

In a statement, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President Stanley Deal said Boeing’s “phased approach” was to ensure the availability of personal protective equipment and Boeing’s supply base. “The health of our employees, our families and communities is our shared priority,” said Deal.

Also on April 16, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun issued a statement expressing support for the U.S. government’s $25 billion support package for domestic airlines. Boeing’s bottom line has suffered directly and indirectly from the coronavirus pandemic, as quarantines and travel advisories have squelched demand for domestic air travel. In his letter, Calhoun reiterated an earlier request for direct government support which cited the domestic aerospace industry’s 17,000 suppliers and 2.5 million jobs.

$17 billion in the third government coronavirus stimulus bill was earmarked for “firms vital to maintaining national security.” It’s likely that that money is intended, in whole or in part, for Boeing, but the government and the airplane maker haven’t struck a deal on the terms.

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