A Boeing logo is seen at the company's facility in Everett, Washington, Jan 21, 2020. (Photo: Agencies)
Boeing will cut 6,770 US employees in its first round of involuntary layoffs triggered by the collapse of commercial air travel amid the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, the aircraft builder said Wednesday.
The layoffs are part of Boeing's previously announced plans to reduce its global workforce of 160,000 by 10 percent through routine turnover as some employees leave for other jobs, retirements and involuntary layoffs.
"The Covid-19 pandemic's devastating impact on the airline industry means a deep cut in the number of commercial jets and services that our customers will need over the next few years, which in turn means fewer jobs on our lines and in our offices," David Calhoun, Boeing's CEO, said in a statement.
"I wish there were some other way. We also will have to adjust our business plans constantly until the global pandemic stops whipsawing our markets in ways that are still hard to predict."
So far, about 5,500 US employees have agreed to leave the company voluntarily.
Boeing's commercial aircraft business will take most of the cuts. The company's defense, space and security divisions are expected to lose about 100 workers through involuntary layoffs.
Most of the involuntary layoffs that Boeing announced Wednesday are expected to center on the company's assembly plants in the Seattle area. Boeing also is likely to cut jobs at its services arm as the collapse in demand for air travel also reduced expenditures for parts and maintenance services.
Boeing still must cut another 4,000 jobs to meet its stated goal of reducing its workforce by 16,000 employees. The company said those layoffs will be announced in the next few months.
Calhoun told employees there are some tentative signs of an economic turnaround that will benefit Boeing.
"Some of our customers are reporting that reservations are outpacing cancelations on their flights for the first time since the pandemic started," he said in a statement.
"Some countries and US states are starting cautiously to reopen their economies again. And some parts of our business, most notably on the defense side, will continue hiring to meet customer commitments and fill critical skill positions."
Departing workers will receive severance pay, temporary healthcare coverage and assistance in finding another job, the company said.
Boeing isn't the only company announcing cutbacks in the sector as airlines reduce, postpone or cancel orders for new aircraft.
Boeing's European rival Airbus has announced plans to cut jetliner production by about a third, with layoffs as needed.
General Electric Co, a builder of jet engines and other parts for Airbus and Boeing, has announced plans to cut thousands of jobs.
Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas, a builder of fuselages for the 737 MAX, cut about 2,800 workers after Boeing temporarily suspended production of the plane in January.
Previously, Boeing announced that it would cut production of its 787 twin-aisle jet by 50 percent.