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Boeing to Cut 4,500 Jobs as Airline Demand Falls

Boeing, the world's second-largest airplane maker, is planning to cut about 3 percent of its work force as jetliner demand falls, hurt by the global economic downturn.

Boeing Headquarters
Boeing Headquarters

The Chicago-based company on Friday said it expects to cut about 4,500 positions from its passenger jet business, which has factories in the Seattle area. Many of the cuts will be in areas not directly associated with aircraft production.

The news comes a day after Boeing reported a 15 percent decline in passenger jet deliveries for 2008, when it faced an eight-week strike by union workers and shrinking airline demand. The lower deliveries ensured Boeing's archrival, Europe's Airbus, retained its rank as the world's top plane maker.

Orders for Boeing planes, meanwhile, plunged by more than half last year, following three straight years of exceptionally strong bookings, a grim reminder that carriers have been scaling back spending since the summer to cope with fewer air travelers.

Most of the job cuts announced Friday are expected to occur in Washington state in the second quarter of the year, the company said. Boeing says employees will receive 60-day notices starting in late February.

"We have made significant strides in recent years to achieve greater efficiency and productivity, but we still face challenges that we must address," Scott Carson, president and chief executive of Boeing's commercial airplanes division, said in a statement.

Boeing said the cuts will enable it to continue focusing on development programs, airplane deliveries, productivity improvements and quality, as well as customer support.

The company said this year's cuts will eliminate roughly the number of positions added to its commercial aircraft operation in 2008, lowering the total number to 63,500. Boeing employed a total of 162,191 people as of Dec. 31.

Boeing shares fell slightly to below $45 Friday.

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