Boeing to offer voluntary layoffs to employees to avoid fallout from coronavirus

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By Eric M. Johnson and Shubham Kalia

SEATTLE (Reuters) – Boeing Co is expected to offer buy-back and early retirement packages to employees, two people familiar with the matter announced on Wednesday to help alleviate the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Boeing was initiating a voluntary redundancy plan that allows eligible employees who wish to leave the company to do so with pay and benefits, one said.

Boeing chief executive Dave Calhoun is expected to detail a voluntary layoff plan in a note to employees as early as Thursday, the second person said.

Reuters reported last month, citing industry sources, that layoffs or holidays were a “real possibility” because deliveries and delayed payments from planes due to virus-related plunge in transportation have forced Boeing to consider tougher measures to reduce cash outflows.

A Boeing representative declined to comment.

Boeing, which claims to be the largest US exporter, has some 150,000 employees worldwide, almost half of which are grouped around renowned factories in the Puget Sound area of ​​Seattle.

The buyout plan comes three weeks after the US planner announced that he would freeze hiring and overtime pay, except in certain critical areas to save money.

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the year-long crisis after the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX following fatal accidents that killed 346 people in five months.

Boeing stopped production of 737 in January.

Boeing halted operations at its two-aisle plant and other facilities around Seattle last week after more than a dozen workers were infected – at least one fatally – with the virus that causes COVID- 19.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Wednesday that an announcement on early retirement and buyout plans could take place as early as Thursday.

Boeing called for a $ 60 billion bailout for access to public and private liquidity, including loan guarantees, for the struggling US aerospace industry.

(Report by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle and Shubham Kalia in Bangalore; edited by Tom Hogue & Shri Navaratnam)

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