Boeing set to offer voluntary layoffs to employees amid coronavirus fallout

Planemaker has also frozen hiring and overtime pay

Boeing is said to be  initiating a voluntary layoff plan that allows eligible employees who want to exit the company to do so with a pay and benefits package. Photograph: Matt Mills McKnight/Files/Reuters

Boeing is said to be initiating a voluntary layoff plan that allows eligible employees who want to exit the company to do so with a pay and benefits package. Photograph: Matt Mills McKnight/Files/Reuters

 

Boeing is set to offer buyout and early retirement packages to employees, sources said on Wednesday, a bid to mitigate the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Boeing was initiating a voluntary layoff plan that allows eligible employees who want to exit the company to do so with a pay and benefits package, one of the sources said.

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

Reuters reported last month, citing industry sources, that layoffs or furloughs were a “real possibility” as deferred aircraft deliveries and downpayments due to a virus-related plunge in air travel forced Boeing to consider tougher steps to reduce cash outflow.

A representative for Boeing declined to comment.

Boeing, which calls itself America’s largest exporter, has some 150,000 employees worldwide, nearly half of whom are clustered around marquee factories in Seattle’s Puget Sound region.

The buyout plan comes three weeks after the US planemaker said it would freeze hiring and overtime pay except in certain critical areas to preserve cash.

The coronavirus pandemic has compounded the year-old crisis over the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX following fatal crashes that killed 346 people in a five-month span.

Boeing halted 737 production in January.

Last week Boeing halted operations at its twin-aisle factory and other facilities around Seattle after more than a dozen employees were infected - at least one fatally - by the virus that causes Covid-19.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Wednesday that an announcement on early retirement and buyout packages could come as early as Thursday.

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