Boeing will reopen its South Carolina Dreamliner factory amid discussions of workforce reductions at the company

  • Boeing will reopen its North Charleston, South Carolina 787 Dreamliner facility next week, the company said on Monday.
  • The facility has been closed since April 8 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company reopened its Washington state facilities last week.
  • Boeing held its shareholder meeting on Monday and will announce earnings later this week. It is expected to announce a production decrease and possible workforce reductions, too.
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Boeing said on Monday that it would reopen its 787 Dreamliner facility in North Charleston, South Carolina, next week, just shy of a month after the plant was shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Boeing resumed operations at its Puget Sound, Washington-region factories last week, after similarly closing them due to the virus. 

Numerous Boeing workers in the US have tested positive for COVID-19, and at least one has died — a worker at the company's Washington 787 plant.

The company implemented new safety policies in Washington after the reopening, including the wearing of face masks and staggered shift start times, as well as the addition of hand washing stations, Boeing said. Similar measures will be taken in South Carolina.

"The health and safety of our teammates, their families and our community is our shared priority," Brad Zaback, Boeing South Carolina site leader, said in a press release. "Our approach to resumption of operations ensures we honor that priority by ensuring personal protective equipment is readily available and that all necessary safety measures are in place to resume essential work for our customers and prioritize the health and safety of our team."

Most employees will return starting on May 3 and 4, with senior leaders and managers returning in the days prior to reopen the site.

The reopening announcement came during a busy week for Boeing, in which the company met with shareholders and prepared to report first-quarter results to investors and analysts. Boeing is also expected to announce whether it will apply for federal aid under the CARES Act — the deadline is Friday, May 1 — and possible production cuts.

The reopening also comes as reports have continued to circulate that Boeing is seeking to reduce the workforce in its commercial-airplane unit by 10%. The company has offered a voluntary layoff program, and is expected to achieve some cuts through a combination of those, buyouts, and early-retirement incentives. Involuntary furloughs or layoffs have not been announced, but remain a possibility.

Airplane manufacturers — including Boeing and Airbus, its main competitor — have seen reduced demand from airlines and plane-leasing customers as travel demand plummets due to the pandemic.

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