Coronavirus: Boeing to cut 15,000 jobs in 'body blow'

Boeing worker coming down steps of plane in facemaskImage source, Reuters

Boeing plans to cut 10% of its workforce, saying the Covid-19 pandemic had delivered it a "body blow".

The struggling US plane maker employs 150,000 people worldwide and was already under pressure after being forced to ground its 737 Max planes following two fatal crashes.

The coronavirus outbreak has led to a collapse in air travel.

BA said it will cut 12,000 jobs while Airbus called it the "gravest crisis" the industry has "ever known".

Boeing's chief executive Dave Calhoun said in a memo to staff that the pandemic is "delivering a body blow to our business" and demand for commercial airline travel "has fallen off a cliff".

He warned: "The aviation industry will take years to return to the levels of traffic we saw just a few months ago."

While 10% of jobs will be cut across the company, Boeing admitted that reductions would be steeper in some departments, such as its commercial airlines business.

'Heartless decision'

Earlier this week, British Airways revealed its own redundancy plan which has been branded as "a heartless decision in a time of national crisis" by the union Unite.

Unite's general secretary Len McCluskey said the announcement "will be felt as the stab in the back it undoubtedly is by the close-knit BA family".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
BA is making thousands of staff redundant

But BA's chief executive Alex Cruz said: "The scale of this challenge requires substantial change."

Guillaume Faury, the boss of Boeing-rival Airbus, said on Wednesday: "We are now in the midst of the gravest crisis the aerospace industry has ever known."

Airbus reported a €481m (£413m) loss in the three months to March, compared to a €40m profit in the first quarter last year, on sales down 15% at €10.6bn.

Boeing also announced a first quarter pre-tax loss, of $1.5bn compared to a $2.3bn pre-tax profit last year. Sales dropped 26% to $17bn.

Mr Calhoun said Boeing is aiming for its 737 Max aircraft to begin flying again this year.

The jet was grounded globally more than a year ago following two plane crashes within five months which claimed the lives of 346 people.

Boeing's results also revealed that the company burned through $4.3bn in cash during the first quarter.

At the weekend, Boeing ended talks with Embraer about buying the Brazilian company's regional airline business for $4.2bn.

Embraer claimed that Boeing had "manufactured false claims as a pretext to seek to avoid its commitments to close the transaction and pay Embraer the $4.2bn purchase price.

But Mr Calhoun said that after two years of talks "we had reached a point where continued negotiation was no longer helpful".