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Coronavirus fallout: Boeing to offer voluntary layoffs to employees

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.

By: Reuters | Seattle | April 2, 2020 1:46:27 pm
Coronavirus fallout: Boeing to offer voluntary layoffs to employees An empty entrance road and parking lot is shown at Boeing Co.’s manufacturing facility, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Renton. (AP Photo: Ted S. Warren)

Boeing Co is set to offer buyout and early retirement packages to employees, two people familiar with the matter 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 people 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 person 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 U.S. 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.

Also read | The top global updates on the coronavirus

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 U.S. aerospace manufacturing industry.

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?

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