Caught between two fatal plane crashes involving its marquee passenger jet and a coronavirus pandemic that has brought the global travel industry to its knees, embattled aerospace manufacturer Boeing announced a substantial round of layoffs today.
In a memo to employees, CEO Dave Calhoun said the company has completed its “voluntary” staff cuts and would now begin laying people off involuntarily. Some 6,770 affected U.S. workers will be notified this week, Calhoun says, in what is expected to be the first of multiple rounds of staff reductions.
Significant cuts were widely expected after the company reported a quarterly net loss of $641 million in April, even worse than some analysts had anticipated.
“The COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on the airline industry means a deep cut in the number of commercial jets and services our customers will need over the next few years, which in turn means fewer jobs on our lines and in our offices,” Calhoun wrote. “We have done our very best to project the needs of our commercial airline customers over the next several years as they begin their path to recovery.”
“I wish there were some other way,” he added.
Even before the pandemic, Boeing had been coming off one of its worst years in recent history, with its 737 Max planes grounded around the world after more than 300 people were killed in two separate crashes, both involving faulty software.
Calhoun replaced outgoing CEO Dennis Muilenburg at the beginning of this year, just weeks before the ripple effects of the coronavirus pandemic and its associated air-travel restrictions began to impact nearly every aspect of the industry.
You can read Calhoun’s full memo here.