Those whose jobs allow them to work from home will continue to work, the company said.
“It is our commitment to focus on the health and safety of our teammates while assessing the spread of the virus across the state, its impact on the reliability of our global supply chain and that ripple effect on the 787 program,” said Brad Zaback, vice president and general manager of the company’s 787 program. “We are working in alignment with state and local government officials and public health officials to take actions that best protect our people.”
The South Carolina factory shutdown is the latest of several actions by the Chicago-based aerospace giant that highlight its struggle to deal with the economic and personal fallout from the global pandemic.
The company also has halted operations in western Washington state, the center of its commercial production, and offered buyouts at the heavily unionized factories there. It also stopped operations at military aircraft production facilities in Pennsylvania.
The company has promised to deep-clean the facilities while workers are away. More than 100 Boeing employees have tested positive for the virus, most of them in Washington.
The plant closures also come at a time when airlines have canceled thousands of flights and orders for new planes as global air travel grinds to a halt.
Even before the public health crisis, Boeing had hit historic financial lows. Its best-selling 737 Max has been grounded for more than a year as the company struggles to fix a control system blamed in two crashes that killed 346 people. The company’s commercial aerospace division lost a quarter of its revenue as a result.
The virus presents a new challenge, as cash-strapped airlines begin to cancel orders. Most recently, aircraft leasing company Avalon canceled a $3.8 billion order for 737 Max jets.