Aerospace & Defense

Boeing workers to return to Dreamliner factory in South Carolina next month after closure amid coronavirus

Key Points
  • Boeing last week sent employees back to plants that were temporarily shut down in the Seattle area, where the bulk of its production is.
  • The company is set to report earnings before the market opens on Wednesday.
Boeing Dreamliner 787 Air China planes sit on the production line at the company's final assembly facility in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Travis Dove | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Boeing said Monday that it plans to reopen its Dreamliner factory in South Carolina in early May after it shut down operations there for nearly a month because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Workers started returning last week to the company's Seattle-area plants, home to the majority of Boeing's airplane production, taking new precautions such as increased physical distance between employees, after it announced the temporary shut down last month. 

Boeing said it has increased cleaning throughout the North Charleston, South Carolina, facility, added hand sanitizing stations and will encourage workers to bring and wear cloth masks or other face coverings. "Some teammates will be required to wear procedural masks, which will be provided, in certain areas when working in close proximity," the company said. 

Here's a preview of Boeing's virtual annual meeting
Here's a preview of Boeing's virtual annual meeting

It will also have voluntary temperature screening for workers using no-touch thermal scanners.

Boeing and its airline customers are reeling from the impact of the coronavirus, which has devastated air travel demand, promising a dismal market for new planes.

CEO Dave Calhoun earlier Monday told shareholders that he expects it to take two or three years before travel demand returns to its 2019 levels and that international travel would take longer to rebound. That's bad news for demand for 787 Dreamliners that are used for those long trips and are made in South Carolina and in the Seattle area. Boeing is expected to make further cuts to its already-reduced 787 production target in the coming months.

Boeing is set to report first-quarter results before the market opens on Wednesday.