Boeing plans to resume commercial airplane production in Washington State by bringing about 27,000 employees back to work, the company said on Thursday. Most will return by the end of next week.
The announcement is the first attempt at large-scale resumption of business activity by a U.S. corporation since the coronavirus outbreak forced companies and government officials to shut down most nonessential work. President Trump is pushing businesses and states to reopen the economy by May 1 or earlier.
“Following thorough reviews of local conditions, we’ve started restoring operations at some sites where work has been suspended,” Boeing’s chief executive, Dave Calhoun, said in a letter to employees.
Those returning to work will find new health and safety precautions in place, such as staggered start times, spread-out work areas and voluntary temperature screenings, the company said.
“The health and safety of our employees, their families and communities is our shared priority,” Stan Deal, president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a statement. “This phased approach ensures we have a reliable supply base, our personal protective equipment is readily available and we have all of the necessary safety measures in place to resume essential work for our customers.”
The returning employees will work on the company’s 747, 767, 777 and 787 planes. The company will also begin laying the groundwork to resume production of the 737 Max, which has been grounded for about a year after two deadly accidents.
The company employs about 72,000 people in Washington State. Between the returning workers and those who are able to telecommute, most of Boeing’s employees in the state will be back to work. The company said it was not yet resuming production at its plant in South Carolina.