Key Boeing 737 Max Supplier Feels Grounding's Effects

 - June 7, 2019, 6:17 PM

The extended grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max is now being felt by the OEM’s largest supplier, Spirit AeroSystems, which announced Friday that about 6,000 of its salaried employees — including CEO Tom Gentile and other senior executives — would begin working four-day workweeks starting June 21. Spirit called the move “part of the company’s coordinated response to the temporary change in production rates for the Boeing 737 Max” in a statement released to AIN on Friday.

Spirit manufactures the 737’s fuselage, pylon, wing leading edges, thrust reverser, and engine nacelle, accounting for half of its $7.2 billion in 2018 net revenue. The company expects the shortened workweeks to last for 10 weeks. The change does not affect employees working in production and on the company’s “strategic defense projects.” 

“Spirit leadership recognizes the hardship these actions will have on our employees and has worked to identify options that will minimize the impact to employees and their families as much as possible,” the statement said. “Our employees are our greatest asset, and we appreciate their support during this period.”

Sprit employs 13,000 people in Wichita and Oklahoma, and 18,000 worldwide. Other actions the company has taken to offset the effects of the Max grounding include reducing overtime and the use of contractors as well as suspending hiring to backfill open positions. 

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, the union that represents engineers and technical and professional workers at Spirit, estimated the 32-hour workweeks will result in a per-week salary reduction of about 20 percent on its members.