Boeing extends Washington production shutdown indefinitely

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By David Shepardson

The largest US planemaker said on March 23 that it would stop production at its two-aisle jet aircraft factory in Washington State as a temporary measure to help fight the epidemic of respiratory disease. Production was scheduled to resume at the start of the week.

Boeing declined to say when production could resume. It said the action was “taken in light of the company’s continued attention to employee health and safety, given the current assessment of the spread of COVID-19 in Washington State, at the reliability of the supply chain and additional recommendations from government health authorities. ”

Boeing will stop paying about 30,000 production workers this week in Washington State after doubling the number of paid production workers’ holidays to 10 days after the suspension. Employees can use paid vacation, vacation and sick leave in the interim and will continue to receive medical benefits.

Boeing said Sunday that 135 members of its global workforce of 160,000 have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Seattle Times reported that, on Friday, Boeing had 95 employees who tested positive for respiratory illness in Washington State, up from 54 the week before. The newspaper said 14 of these people worked at the Everett wide-body aircraft factory.

During the suspension, Boeing will implement additional health and safety measures, including “new visual cues to encourage physical remoteness”, more frequent cleaning of work and common areas and shift schedules.

“We will take this time to continue listening to our incredible team and to assess applicable government directions, the spread of the coronavirus in the community and the reliability of our suppliers,” said Stan Deal, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Boeing airline customers have postponed taking new planes and pre-delivery payments, which compounded the downturn a year ago from the Boeing 737 MAX jet engine that had sold quickly, after two fatal accidents. Boeing stopped production of 737 in January.

Boeing last month asked for at least $ 60 billion in loan guarantees from the US government for itself and other US aerospace manufacturers to help the besieged industry weather a coronavirus-related cash leak.

Boeing said last week that it would suspend operations at its Ridley Township, Pennsylvania facility until April 20 due to the outbreak. The site includes manufacturing and production facilities for military rotorcraft, including the H-47 Chinook, V-22 Osprey and MH-139A Gray Wolf.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney)

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