Boeing announced a “temporary suspension” of production at its Washington factories to last two weeks. In a statement, Boeing said that it was doing so “in light of the state of emergency in Washington state and the company’s continuous assessment of the accelerating spread of the coronavirus in the region. These actions are being taken to ensure the well-being of employees, their families and the local community, and will include an orderly shutdown consistent with the requirements of its customers.”
The shutdown will begin today, March 23, and be effective by Wednesday. Boeing employees who can work from home are being told to do so. Those who cannot work remotely will receive 10 working days of compensation, says Boeing, which is twice the current company policy.
“This necessary step protects our employees and the communities where they work and live,” said Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun. “We continue to work closely with public health officials, and we’re in contact with our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders who are affected by this temporary suspension. We regret the difficulty this will cause them, as well as our employees, but it’s vital to maintain health and safety for all those who support our products and services, and to assist in the national effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. We will keep our employees, customers and supply chain top of mind as we continue to assess the evolving situation,” Calhoun said. “This is an unprecedented time for organizations and communities across the globe.”
According to reports, 29 Boeing employees in the Puget Sound area have been infected with the COVID-19 infection and one has died.
COVID-19 is just the latest challenge Boeing has had to face, following the 737 MAX issues, rapidly falling stock prices, and the possibility that once the MAX is cleared to fly, the airlines scheduled to take delivery of previously built aircraft will no longer be able to afford or need them. Boeing stock was up slightly today after falling dramatically with the rest of the market over the last two weeks. Trading at just over $100/share, Boeing was once valued at more than $420/share. Nevertheless, Goldman Sachs has upgraded the company’s stock from neutral to buy on the assumption that a post-COVID-19 world will still travel significantly by air.