Boeing suspending 787 production at South Carolina plant

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WASHINGTON, April 6 (Reuters) – Boeing Co BA.N said on Monday it would suspend production of its 787 airplane at its facilities in South Carolina amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement came soon after the state’s governor issued an order on Monday directing residents to stay home except for essential trips.

Boeing production will be suspended until further notice after the second shift on Wednesday. On Sunday, the largest U.S. planemaker indefinitely extended the halt of its production operations at its Washington state facilities.

On Thursday, Reuters reported that planemakers – including Boeing and Airbus SE AIR.PA – were looking at drastic cuts in wide-body production amid a slump in demand for the industry’s largest jetliners, citing manufacturing and supplier sources.

Deliveries of long-range jets like the Boeing 777 or 787 and Airbus A350 or A330 have been hit particularly badly as airlines seek deferrals and many withhold progress payments.

On Monday, Airbus said it would temporarily halt production at its A220/A320 manufacturing facility in Alabama because of “high inventory levels in the sites and the various government recommendations.”

Production in Alabama will be halted this week through April 29.

Boeing said on March 23 it would halt production at its Washington state twin-aisle jetliner factory as a temporary measure to help fight the outbreak of the respiratory disease. Production had been expected to resume early this week.

Boeing said on Sunday about 135 members of its 160,000-person global workforce had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Boeing’s airline customers have deferred taking new aircraft and making pre-delivery downpayments, compounding a crisis over the year-old grounding of Boeing’s previously fast-selling 737 MAX jet after two fatal crashes. Boeing halted 737 production in January.

Boeing asked last month for at least $60 billion in U.S. government loan guarantees for itself and other American aerospace manufacturers to help the embattled industry withstand a coronavirus-related cash drain.

Boeing said last week it would suspend operations at its Ridley Township, Pennsylvania, facilities until April 20 because of the outbreak. The site includes manufacturing and production facilities for military rotorcraft, including the H-47 Chinook, V-22 Osprey and MH-139A Grey Wolf.

Boeing said on Monday that during the 787 suspension, it “will continue to conduct enhanced cleaning activities at the site and monitor the global supply chain as the situation evolves.” Workers who cannot work remotely will receive paid leave for 10 working days of the suspension.

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