Boeing job cuts start to hit nearly 13,000 workers

Boeing worker coming down steps of plane in facemask Image copyright Reuters

Nearly 13,000 Boeing workers, mostly in the US, are set to lose their jobs in the coming weeks, as cuts at the American aerospace giant take effect.

More layoffs are expected, some of which may affect the UK.

The reductions had been expected since Boeing revealed plans last month to slash its global workforce by 10% – or roughly 16,000 jobs.

“I wish there were some other way,” chief executive Dave Calhoun wrote in an email to staff.

Boeing has been reeling from a drop in demand for aircraft, as travel plunges amid the pandemic and worsens the pressures on the company, which was already in crisis following two fatal crashes of its 737 Max plane and the global grounding of the plane last year.

In April, customers cancelled more than 100 orders for the 737 and the firm said it had received no new reservations.

Boeing said it still expected to restart 737 Max production this year and that some airlines were reporting signs of recovery.

“But these signs of eventual recovery do not mean the global health and economic crisis is over,” Mr Calhoun said. “Our industry will come back but it will take some years to return to what it was just two months ago.”

Even before the pandemic, the crisis at Boeing, which forced it to halt 737 manufacturing, was expected to be a major drag on the US economy. Suppliers such as General Electric and Spirit AeroSystems Holdings have also announced major job cuts.

The job losses confirmed on Wednesday include 6,670 involuntary cuts and 5,520 voluntary redundancies in the US.

The firm, which has about 18,000 international staff including more than 2,500 in the UK, said it also announced 400 reductions its factory in Winnipeg, Canada and another 230 near Melbourne, Australia. Both plants produce parts for the firm’s commercial aviation business.

Boeing said “several thousand remaining layoffs will come in much smaller additional groups over the next few months.”

“This may involve a reduction in numbers in some parts of Boeing’s UK workforce,” the company told the BBC. “Our team is our priority and we will actively support colleagues into new roles wherever we can. We are committed to the UK.”

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