Boeing considers 10% cut to workforce

Plan could involve buyouts, early retirement, involuntary layoffs

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Boeing Co. is considering a plan to reduce its workforce by about 10%, people familiar with the matter said, as the aerospace giant grapples with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan could involve buyouts, early retirements and involuntary layoffs.

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The potential labor cuts at the aerospace giant, which globally employs about 160,000 people, were expected to largely target Boeing’s commercial arm, these people said. The unit is under tremendous strain due to turmoil in the global airline industry.

No decision on cuts was imminent, one of the people briefed on the matter said, and the potential 10% reduction was among scenarios under consideration. Boeing is aiming to shrink its workforce through buyouts and attrition before turning to involuntary layoffs, this person said. It wasn’t immediately clear how any cuts would affect Boeing’s defense and services arms.

Last week, the plane maker announced it would offer voluntary layoff packages, but hasn’t released details, including how many employees would be eligible. Boeing has said it expected several thousand employees to take advantage of the offer.

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Boeing hasn’t said whether it plans to apply for government loans provided under a new $2 trillion federal stimulus package enacted in late March. Conditions for some of the aid would require certain loan recipients to maintain at least 90% of their workforce through Sept. 30.

Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun, in announcing the voluntary layoffs last week, said the offer “aims to reduce the need for other workforce actions.” Mr. Calhoun has stressed the need to protect Boeing’s workforce so the plane maker will be ready for the airline industry’s eventual recovery.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
BABOEING COMPANY167.36-1.71-1.01%

The commercial arm’s customers have parked much of their fleets around the world as governments close borders and order would-be passengers to stay at home. Airlines are considering deferring deliveries of airliners or paring back orders. Boeing’s European rival Airbus SE has said it was slashing production by about a third amid the airline industry’s woes.

A number of Boeing suppliers and customers have moved to reduce their labor costs. Last month, General Electric Co., a major Boeing supplier, said it would cut about 10% of the U.S.-based workforce in its jet-engine business. Up to half of the division’s maintenance and repair staff would be furloughed for three months, the company has said.

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The plane maker, which is expected to report first-quarter earnings later this month, hasn’t disclosed any changes to its jetliner production rates.

Write to Andrew Tangel at Andrew.Tangel@wsj.com