Boeing to offer staff voluntary layoffs, early retirement: Report

Sources say the planemaker could announce the plan as early as Thursday as it struggles with the effects of the virus.

Boeing 737 MAX annual loss
Boeing had been dealt an earlier financial hit when it delayed production of its 737 MAX planes, which had been involved into two separate crashes [File: Lindsey Wasson/Reuters]

Boeing Co is set to offer buyout and early retirement packages to employees, sources said on Wednesday, in a bid to mitigate the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Boeing was initiating a voluntary layoff plan that allows eligible employees who want to exit the company to do so with a pay and benefits package, one of the sources told Reuters.

Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun is expected to detail the plan in a memo to employees as early as Thursday, a second person said to Reuters.

A representative for Boeing declined to comment.

No details were available for the size of the workforce reductions or areas in the company where they might occur, Bloomberg reported, citing a source who asked not to be identified as the matter is confidential.

Reuters reported last month, citing industry sources, that layoffs or furloughs were a “real possibility” as deferred aircraft deliveries and down payments due to a virus-related plunge in air travel forced Boeing to consider tougher steps to reduce cash outflow.

Boeing, which calls itself the US’s largest exporter, has some 161,000 employees worldwide, nearly half of whom are clustered around marquee factories in Seattle’s Puget Sound region.

The buyout plan comes three weeks after the US planemaker said it would freeze hiring and overtime pay, except in certain critical areas, to preserve cash.

The coronavirus pandemic has compounded the year-old crisis over the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people in a five-month span.

Boeing halted 737 MAX production in January.

Last week, Boeing halted operations at its twin-aisle factory and other facilities around Seattle after more than a dozen employees were infected – at least one fatally – by the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Wednesday that an announcement on early retirement and buyout packages could come as early as Thursday.

Boeing has called for a $60bn bailout in access to public and private liquidity, including loan guarantees, for the struggling US aerospace manufacturing industry. 

Source: News Agencies