Boeing says it will resume production of the 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina by May 3, less than a month after the company complied with local stay-at-home orders and shuttered the facility. Boeing put workers back on the job in Washington state last week. Meanwhile, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun has told shareholders that a return to pre-COVID travel volume won’t come soon. “We expect it will take two to three years for travel to return to 2019 levels and an additional few years beyond that for the industry’s long-term trend growth to return,” he said.
Following a top-level reorganization last week, Boeing is expected to begin trimming its workforce even as facilities come back online. The Seattle Times is reporting that Boeing will be incentivizing voluntary layoffs and that it is planning to cut total workforce by 15 percent to 35 percent. Calhoun warned that, like Boeing, its suppliers’ plans and investments “made around the future, not dissimilar to ourselves, they now have to tear up and start over and resize themselves …”
Regarding the 787 plant reopening, Brad Zaback, the program’s vice president and general manager, said that “The health and safety of our teammates, their families and our community is our shared priority. Our approach to resumption of operations ensures we honor that priority by ensuring personal protective equipment is readily available and that all necessary safety measures are in place to resume essential work for our customers and prioritize the health and safety of our team. We have also taken the necessary steps to ensure a steady supply base for our operations.”
According to Boeing, the plant has benefited from “cleaning of all buildings, including pressure washing of restrooms and thorough cleaning of break areas, cafeterias, conference rooms and other community spaces; adding new hand sanitization stations across the site; and encouraging all teammates to bring and wear cloth face coverings.” Boeing will provide “procedural masks” for those working in close proximity and will have “voluntary temperature screening stations available for teammates on all shifts via no-touch thermal scanners.”
Boeing is set to release full first-quarter financials on Wednesday.