Aerospace & Defense

Boeing plans two-week shutdown of factories in Seattle area because of coronavirus

Key Points
  • Boeing will shut down its Puget Sound-area factories for two weeks because of the coronavirus.
  • Washington state has declared a state of emergency and several Boeing workers have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The aviation industry has been hit especially hard by the virus as air travel demand craters. 
In this Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, file photo, a Boeing worker walks in view of a 737 MAX jet in Renton, Wash.
Elaine Thompson | AP

Boeing on Monday said it is shutting down production at its factories in the Seattle area for two weeks as the manufacturer grapples with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The company's move to suspend its production at its facilities in the Puget Sound area comes as Washington state, where most of Boeing's production is centered, is in a state of emergency. Several Boeing employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

"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," Boeing said in a statement.

The aviation industry has been especially hit hard by the coronavirus as airlines race to ground hundreds of planes and defer orders to match the collapse in air travel demand. General Electric said earlier on Monday that it will lay off 10% of U.S. workers in its crucial jet engine unit — equal to about 2,600 people — and furlough engine maintenance and overhaul employees for 90 days because of the drop in demand.

The production halt at the factories, where Boeing produces several types of wide-body aircraft, marks one of the biggest disruptions yet across U.S. manufacturing from the disease and the draconian measures aimed at stopping its spread. It also adds to Boeing's woes over the past year, when it has faced the worldwide grounding of its bestselling 737 Max after two fatal crashes of the planes killed all 346 people on board.

Boeing in January halted production of the 737 Max, which is made in Renton, Washington, to cut costs associated with the still-grounded aircraft.

Shares of Boeing were up more than 15% on Monday after a brief trading halt to announce the production suspension. 

Boeing shares halted after announcing it will suspend operations at Puget Sound facilities
Boeing shares halted after announcing it will suspend operations at Puget Sound facilities