Boeing Co said on Monday it will halt production temporarily at its Washington state twin-aisle jetliner factory due to risks from coronavirus, confirming an earlier Reuters report.
Following a similar move by European rival Airbus SE, Boeing said a temporary operations shutdown at its facilities across Seattle’s Puget Sound region will last 14 days beginning March 25. It will include a deep clean of its buildings and equipment.
The fast-spreading coronavirus has disrupted life across the United States, hammering the economy and virtually wiping out air travel demand. It has also compounded a crisis over the year-old grounding of Boeing’s best-selling 737 Max jetliner after fatal crashes.
Boeing, which employs some 70,000 people in Seattle’s Puget Sound area, has more than dozen confirmed coronavirus cases among employees. One worker died from the coronavirus, according to a friend’s Facebook tribute.
Boeing chief executive officer Dave Calhoun said in a statement accompanying the announcement that the plane maker was working closely with public health officials, customers, suppliers and others affected by the temporary suspension.
“We regret the difficulty this will cause them, as well as our employees, but it’s vital to maintain health and safety for all those who support our products and services, and to assist in the national effort to combat the spread of COVID-19,” Calhoun said.
Boeing already instructed many employees to work from home. It said factory and other workers unable to work remotely would receive paid leave during the planned suspension period.
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