This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
Boeing is offering employees voluntary layoffs accompanied by a pay and benefits package in an effort to mitigate the likely need for more drastic cuts as the coronavirus crisis deepens. In a letter to all employees released to the media on Thursday, Boeing CEO David Calhoun said the company will provide details of the offer, including eligibility terms, over the next three to four weeks.
“It will take time for the aerospace industry to recover from the crisis,” wrote Calhoun. “When the world emerges from the pandemic, the size of the commercial market and the types of products and services our customers want and need will likely be different. We will need to balance the supply and demand accordingly as the industry goes through the recovery process for years to come…It's important we start adjusting to our new reality now.
“We want to address it through natural turnover and voluntary employment actions to the extent we responsibly can,” he added. “This move aims to reduce the need for other workforce actions.”
Calhoun also stressed the importance of keeping Boeing’s workforce intact to allow for a relatively smooth return to normal operations once the crisis subsides. However, he also warned of the possibility that circumstances could change unexpectedly for the worse.
“We're taking actions—including offering this [voluntary layoff] plan—based on what we know today," he said. "They will bridge us to recovery as long as we're not confronted with more unexpected challenges. I can't predict with certainty what the next few months will bring, but I can commit to being honest about what's happening and doing everything we can to protect our people and our business through this crisis."
Boeing suspended production activities at its Puget Sound-area factories on March 25 for a two-week period, during which time it said it would monitor government guidance and conduct more “deep cleaning” while establishing “rigorous criteria for returning to work.” Calhoun did not address plans for what might happen at the end of the 14 days, at which time paid leave ends for employees who cannot work from home.