About 27,000 Boeing employees will return to work next week under health and safety guidelines.
After suspending operations last month due to the coronavirus outbreak, Boeing announced it will resume building aircraft at their Washington state facility next week.
About 27,000 Boeing employees will return to work next week to resume production of the commercial jets including the 747, 767, 777, and 787. The manufacturer said that they will take extra health precautions to prevent the spread of the virus — especially since Washington state was the origin of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.
“The health and safety of our employees, their families and communities is our shared priority,” Stan Deal, president, and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and senior executive in the Pacific Northwest said in a press release. “This phased approach ensures we have a reliable supply base, our personal protective equipment is readily available and we have all of the necessary safety measures in place to resume essential work for our customers.”
Around 200 Boeing employees tested positive for coronavirus since the outbreak arrived in Washington in February, according to Reuters.
Employees will work staggered shifts and will be required to wear face masks. In areas where physical distance cannot be maintained, they will wear personal protective equipment.
However, Boeing’s production at their Renton, Wash. facility has been controversial since before the coronavirus outbreak. Last year, the Boeing 737-MAX aircraft were grounded following the two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed a total of 346 people within five months of each other. Specifically for the Boeing 737, production will be done in phases.
However, to get started, Boeing said the aerospace industry will need help from the government.
“Our industry will need the government’s support, which will be critical to ensuring access to credit markets and likely take the form of loans versus outright grants,” Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun told employees in a letter, obtained by Reuters. “Our team continues to focus on the best ways to keep liquidity flowing through our business and to our supply chain until our customers are buying airplanes again,” it said.
Last month, Boeing said it wanted to “ensure a minimum of $60 billion in access to public and private liquidity, including loan guarantees, for the aerospace manufacturing industry” from the government, Reuters reported. But the manufacturer has not elaborated on whether or not they will seek federal financial assistance with this reopening.
President Donald Trump also spoke about assisting Boeing last week.
“Boeing has not asked for aid yet but I think they probably will,” he said during a coronavirus task force briefing. “We can’t let anything happen to Boeing.”