- GE Aviation is laying off about 2,600 workers, about 10% of its U.S. staff.
- Coronavirus has decimated air travel demand and airlines are grounding planes by the hundreds.
- GE says it will increase production of ventilators and other medical equipment.
General Electric, which makes some of the world's most commonly used aircraft engines, will lay off 10% of its U.S. workers at its aviation unit — about 2,600 people — as coronavirus hurts air travel and aircraft demand, while it raises production of ventilators and other crucial medical equipment.
Aviation has been hit especially hard by the virus, which has decimated air travel demand and prompted airlines including Delta, United and others around the world to park hundreds of planes and defer deliveries of new aircraft in an attempt to save cash.
The company announced sweeping changes to staffing as the pandemic roils the industry, which in recent years was racing to keep up with searing demand for the planes that GE's engines power.
GE said it will also furlough about half of its aviation unit's maintenance, repair and engine overhaul workers for 90 days.
The company announced its health care unit is scrambling to increase production of equipment including ventilators, patient monitors, CTs and mobile X-ray devices to meet increasing demand from hospitals and other facilities fighting the pandemic.
"I know our business teams are working hard to understand our new realities," said CEO Larry Culp in a note to employees.
Culp said he would forgo his salary for the rest of the year, following similar moves by executives at airlines and one of the industrial conglomerate's biggest customers for new engines: Boeing.