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Boeing Suspends Aircraft Production in Seattle Area After Dozens of Workers Infected With Covid-19, One Dies

Boeing Suspends Aircraft Production in Seattle Area After Dozens of Workers Infected With Covid-19, One Dies

Aerospace giant Boeing announced Monday that it would suspend all production at its facilities in the Seattle area (officially known as the Puget Sound area) after at least 20 employees were struck down with the respiratory virus Covid-19. One Boeing worker based in Washington has already died from the Coronavirus and the state is one of the worst affected in the United States.

Boeing said it had made the decision after “continuous assessment of the accelerating spread of the coronavirus in the region”. The aircraft manufacturer’s chief executive, Dave Calhoun said production facilities in Puget Sound would be shuttered for an initial period of two weeks.

Photo Credit: Boeing
Photo Credit: Boeing

“This necessary step protects our employees and the communities where they work and live,” Calhoun explained. “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,” he continued.

Factory workers were expected to report for work as normal on Monday in order to receive “guidance on their role in the suspension shutdown process”. Workers who are unable to work from home will receive 10-days of paid leave which will cover the 14-day shutdown.

Boeing was at pains to point out that the paid leave period was double its normal policy.

During the closure, deep cleaning will take place at a number of affected sites where workers have been confirmed to be infected with Covid-19. If factories do in fact reopen after the initial 14-day shutdown, Boeing said it would take an “orderly approach to restarting production” that was “consistent with the requirements of its customers.”

The Airbus A35-1000 taking off from Toulouse on its test 'Early Long Flight'. Photo Credit: Airbus
Photo Credit: Airbus

That would suggest Boeing may be looking to significantly slow down production after many airlines indicated they would do everything possible to defer, delay or possibly even cancel outstanding aircraft orders because of the unprecedented challenges caused by the Coroanaviurs pandemic.

On Monday, European aircraft manufacturer Airbus partially reopened production on Spain and France – both countries have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. Airbus said it had implemented new “stringent” health and safety measures to protect staff, including social distancing rules at its factories.

“Work stations will only re-open if they comply with the new health and safety measures in terms of hygiene, cleaning and self-distancing while improving the efficiency of operations under new working conditions,” the Toulouse-based company said in a statement.

In February, the Airbus Final Assembly Line in Tianjin, China, reopened following a stoppage caused by the initial Coronavirus outbreak in mainland China.

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