Boeing restarting commercial airplane production next week


(Reuters) – Boeing Co said it will resume commercial airplane production next week in Washington State after suspending operations last month in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and the company’s chief executive told employees the aerospace industry will need financial help from the government.

FILE PHOTO: The Boeing Everett Factory is pictured after Boeing announced a temporary suspension of production operations at its Puget Sound area facilities, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Everett, Washington, U.S. March 23, 2020. REUTERS/David Ryder

“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 seen 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.

About 27,000 Boeing workers in the Puget Sound area will return to production of the 747, 767, 777 and 787 jet programs.

Employees in the Puget Sound for the 747, 767 and 777 will return on April 20 or April 21, while employees on the 787 program will return on April 23 or April 24.

In January, Boeing halted production of the 737 MAX after two fatal crashes in five months. Employees on the 737 program in Puget Sound are returning to work starting April 20 as they resume working toward restarting MAX production, the company said.

A Boeing spokesman declined to say whether the company would seek government assistance.

Boeing said last month it wanted the government to “ensure a minimum of $60 billion in access to public and private liquidity, including loan guarantees, for the aerospace manufacturing industry.”

Calhoun said in March he did not want the U.S. Treasury to take an equity stake in the planemaker as a condition of government loans.

At the same time, U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to help Boeing.

“Boeing has not asked for aid yet but I think they probably will,” Trump said last week. “We can’t let anything happen to Boeing.”

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Sandra Maler and Bill Berkrot

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