Boeing is planning to lay off more than 6,000 employees this week in an effort to slash costs as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate the air travel and aerospace industries.
The aircraft manufacturer previously said it is seeking to reduce its head count by 10% through voluntary and involuntary separations from the company. Boeing said in its 2019 annual report that it had more than 160,000 employees.
“Following the reduction-in-force announcement we made last month, we have concluded our voluntary layoff (VLO) program,” CEO Dave Calhoun said in a note to employees. “And now we have come to the unfortunate moment of having to start involuntary layoffs (ILO). We’re notifying the first 6,770 of our U.S. team members this week that they will be affected.”
Thousands of other employees will be laid off over the next few months and 5,520 other Boeing employees have been approved for voluntary separations, Boeing said.
“I wish there were some other way,” Calhoun said. “For those of you who are notified, I want to offer my personal gratitude for the contributions you have made to Boeing, and I wish you and your families the very best.”
The virus has driven down demand for air travel, hurting the airline and leasing customers Boeing relies on. Airlines are posting their first losses in years and the virus has sapped demand for new planes, a trend that is affecting both Boeing and its main rival, Europe’s Airbus.
The pandemic is an additional crisis for Boeing. The company had already been struggling with the aftermath of two crashes of its 737 Max planes that killed 346 people. The jetliners, Boeing’s most popular plane, have been grounded worldwide since shortly after the second crash, an Ethiopian Airlines plane in March 2019. Now, cancellations of Boeing orders are piling up.
Late last month, Boeing raised $25 billion in its largest ever debt sale to help it weather the downturn, a sum that it said allowed it to forgo federal aid.