Boeing restarted 737 Max production just hours after saying it would lay off thousands of workers

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Boeing restarted 737 Max production just hours after saying it would lay off thousands of workers
Workers are pictured next to a Boeing 737 Max 9 airplane on the tarmac of the Boeing Renton Factory in Renton, Washington on March 12, 2019.JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty
  • Boeing has resumed production of the 737 Max, the same day it announced it was laying off nearly 7,000 workers.
  • The plane was grounded worldwide in March 2019, and production had been suspended since January 2020.
  • Boeing has about 450 completed planes in storage, which it has not been able to deliver to customers due to the grounding.

Boeing has resumed production of the 737 Max, the company said on Wednesday, more than five months after it paused its assembly lines.

The announcement came just hours after Boeing said it would lay off 6,770 workers, "the first" of a wave of layoffs expected this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Work at the Boeing facility in Renton, Washington, where the 737 Max is built has been suspended since January. Boeing has continued manufacturing the plane throughout its yearlong grounding, but has been unable to deliver them to customers while the plane was not allowed to be flown.

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Boeing has about 450 completed but undelivered planes in storage. When it announced January's assembly suspension, it said that it was running out of space to store them.

Since the initial suspension, Boeing has seen the commercial aerospace landscape shift dramatically. Air travel demand is down as much as 97% for commercial airlines. Airlines have grounded large portions of their fleets and are expected to cancel orders for new aircraft or defer delivery.

CEO David Calhoun said several weeks ago that the company planned to resume production this month.

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The company did not immediately return Business Insider's request for comment on where newly completed planes will be stored.

Last month, Boeing announced that it would significantly pare back its aircraft production. Assembly of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner will be cut from 14 to 10 per month in 2020, and seven by 2022. Production of the 777 family of aircraft will be cut from five per month to three by 2021.

The 737 Max, which was produced at a rate of 42 per month from April 2019 through January, will be ramped up at a slower rate when production resumes, the company said, gradually increasing to 31 per month during 2021.

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During its first quarter earnings report in April, the company said it planned to reduce its workforce by 10% in response to the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, including 15% in its commercial aircraft division.

Boeing temporarily suspended production at its other commercial aircraft facilities in Washington state and South Carolina due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those plants have since reopened.

Do you work for Boeing or an airline affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? Reach out to this reporter at dslotnick@businessinsider.com.

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