Boeing Commercial To Lay Off 4,500

 - January 9, 2009, 10:02 AM

Boeing said today that it expects to slash employment at its Commercial Airplanes business by some 4,500 positions this year “as part of an effort to ensure competitiveness and control costs in the face of a weakening global economy.” The cuts lower Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ employment total to roughly 63,500, approximately the level at which it began at the start of last year.

“We are taking prudent actions to make sure Boeing remains well positioned in today’s difficult economic environment,” said Scott Carson, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We have made significant strides in recent years to achieve greater efficiency and productivity, but we still face challenges that we must address. We regret the disruption to those affected by this decision, but we believe that acting now will allow us to be in a financial position to adapt to market uncertainties, meet our customer commitments, continue investing in our current and future product lines and protect our competitiveness in a fiercely competitive business environment.”

The layoffs come as part of a program to cut overhead costs and discretionary spending, much of which the company expects it can achieve through normal attrition and a reduction in contract labor. It said many of the job cuts will involve overhead functions and other areas not directly associated with airplane production. Most will occur in Washington state in the second quarter of the year, it said. Affected employees will receive 60-day notices beginning in late February. The company promised to support laid-off employees with layoff benefits and career-transition services.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes began 2008 employing more than 63,000 people (including contract labor) and increased employment to nearly 68,000 by year-end.