A worker walks near a 747-8 airplane at the Boeing factory in Everett, Wash.
David Ryder | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Boeing is extending production shut down at its Seattle-area airplane factories “until further notice” because of the coronavirus pandemic, the company said Sunday.
The manufacturer last month said it would pause production for two weeks at the facilities, where it produces wide-body planes. It had already suspended production in January of the 737 Max, which has been grounded for more than a year after two fatal crashes.
“These actions are being taken in light of the company’s continuing focus on the health and safety of employees, current assessment of the spread of COVID-19 in Washington state, the reliability of the supply chain and additional recommendations from government health authorities,” Boeing said in a statement. The decision does not impact work at its 787 facilities in South Carolina, a spokesman said.
About 135 Boeing employees have tested positive for COVID-19, a Boeing spokesman said. Boeing employs about 160,000 people.
Coronavirus and harsh measures to stop it such as travel bans and stay-at-home orders have roiled air travel demand. Airlines are parking hundreds of planes and deferring orders of new jets, promising difficult months ahead for aircraft manufacturers like Boeing and its European rival Airbus.
Boeing has sought $60 billion in government aid for itself and its massive supply chain, but it was not immediately clear how much the industry will receive as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package Congress approved last month.
The virus is an additional problem for Boeing, which has been struggling with the fallout of the 737 Max crisis. The company last week said it was offering employees voluntary separations from the company in an effort to save cash. Boeing last month also suspended its dividend.
Avolon, one of the biggest airplane-leasing firms, on Friday said it was cancelling orders for 75 737 Max planes that were due to be delivered by 2023 as well as four Airbus A330 jets.
“We are currently facing the most challenging period in the history of commercial aviation,” Avolon CEO Domhnal Slattery said in a statement on Friday. “The impact of the virus has been far reaching and the required response, both on an individual and on a community basis, is without parallel.”