Spirit Aerosystems will lay off about 2,800 workers in Wichita due to the continuing grounding of the Boeing 737 Max, the aircraft supplier announced Friday. Spirit produces about 70 percent of the 737 Max.
“The difficult decision announced today is a necessary step given the uncertainty related to both the timing for resuming 737 MAX production and the overall production levels that can be expected following the production suspension,” said Spirit president and CEO Tom Gentile. “We are taking these actions to balance the interests of all of our stakeholders as a result of the grounding of the 737 MAX, while also positioning Spirit to meet future demand.”
The company, Kansas’s largest private employer with 12,500 workers in Wichita, noted that it hasn’t received notice from Boeing on the expected duration of the production suspension or the plans for future production rates. Once production resumes, Spirit expects the rate to run far lower than in 2019 because more than 100 Max fuselages and other parts await delivery to Boeing, and Boeing has built “several hundred airplanes” not yet delivered to its customers.
Wichita employees affected by the layoff will receive 60-day notices and compensation for that period. The company expects layoffs to begin on January 22. The company also expects to take similar but smaller actions at its plants in Tulsa and McAlester, Oklahoma, which also supply Max parts.
“We continue to work with Boeing to develop a new production schedule for 2020 with an eye toward minimizing disruption, maintaining the stability of our production capabilities, and best positioning Spirit for the future,” Gentile said. “When production levels increase sufficiently in the future, we look forward to recalling employees impacted by today’s announcement.”