Boeing to cut workforce by 10% and reduce 787 production due to pandemic

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(Reuters) – Boeing Co (BA.N) said on Wednesday it would cut its workforce by about 10% and further reduce 787 Dreamliner production after reporting a loss for the second straight quarter as the coronavirus pandemic hits global travel demand.

FILE PHOTO: A Boeing logo is seen at the company’s facility in Everett after it was announced that their 777X model will make its first test flight later in the week in Everett, Washington, U.S. January 21, 2020. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

Its stock was up 5.4% at $138.34 in premarket trading.

Planemakers, airlines and suppliers have been left reeling by the pandemic, which has crippled passenger travel, catapulted major economies into recession and forced major companies to scramble for cash to weather the downturn.

Chicago-based Boeing said it was confident of getting sufficient liquidity to fund its operations, sending its shares up 5.4% in premarket trading. Reuters reported on Tuesday that it is working with investment banks on a potential bond deal worth at least $10 billion.

Last month it drew down its entire $13.8 billion credit line and is also weighing seeking government aid.

As the coronavirus took hold, Boeing was already grappling with a production freeze and year-long grounding of the 737 MAX following two fatal crashes.

In January, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun had said production of the MAX could resume by April ahead of its forecasted mid-year return to service, but the health crisis has put those timelines into question.

Boeing said on Tuesday that 737 MAX production will resume at low rates in 2020 as timing and conditions of return to service are better understood and gradually increase to 31 per month during 2021, with further gradual increases to correspond with market demand.

Reuters reported Tuesday approval is not expected until at least August and could be pushed back later.

Boeing said it plans to cut production of the bigger 787 jet to seven units per month by 2022. In October, Boeing had announced plans to lower the 787 production rate to 12 per month in late 2020 from 14. Earlier this year, the company revised the target to 10 aircraft per month in early 2021.

It will also reduce the 777/777X combined production rate to 3 per month in 2021 from 5.

Demand for the 787 had waned as a result of the U.S.-China trade war and the pandemic has made it more difficult for Boeing to sustain production of the aircraft, which is its main source of cash as the 737 MAX remains grounded.

Boeing said its assumed timing of 737 MAX regulatory approvals will enable deliveries to resume during the third quarter.

The company’s adjusted loss stood at $1.70 billion, or $1.70 per share in the first quarter, compared with a profit of $1.99 billion, or $3.16 per share, a year earlier.

Over the weekend, Boeing canceled a $4.2-billion deal for Embraer SA’s (EMBR3.SA) commercial aviation, prompting the Brazilian company to initiate arbitration.

It is also facing lawsuits related to the 737 MAX crashes and federal prosecutors aided by the FBI, the Department of Transportation’s inspector general are investigating the 737 MAX’s certification.

European rival Airbus (AIR.PA) on Wednesday posted a 49% slump in first-quarter core profit and called for an industry-wide campaign to restore confidence in flying. It highlighted plans to save cash after gushing 8 billion euros ($8.67 billion)in the first quarter.

Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru and David Shepardson in Washington; Writing by Tracy Rucinski Editing by Arun Koyyur and Nick Zieminski

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