Boeing to restart 737 MAX production, layoff thousands

SEATTLE -- Pink slips are expected to go out this week for thousands of Boeing employees. When the dust settles nearly 10,000 jobs in our state are expected to be lost.

Several front-line factory workers said the sheer number of job losses were staggering, one said this round of layoffs is larger than what happened after 9-11.

“It’s mind-blowing,” said another.

The company said there was no other way to save the jobs as the pandemic slashed demand from airlines. The announcement also warned the downturn in demand could last several more years.

What’s worse, as Boeing is Washington state’s largest employer the impacts won’t stop on the factory floor.

Kiete Lei owns a sandwich restaurant in Renton and Boeing employees used to be his lunch ticket but, thanks to the pandemic he’s seen upwards of a 30% loss of business and has cut hours at the restaurant.

“Kind of worrying,” said Lei.

Boeing has said the biggest drop in business, and the largest layoffs, would come to their commercial aircraft division. The company said the beleaguered 737 MAX could take to the sky again and soon.

“We got an email late this afternoon the 737 will be back in production shortly,” said one employee. “That’s a positive for us. That at least is a step in the right direction.”

Boeing’s CEO said the continuing pandemic presents enormous challenges and will force the company to constantly adapt and emphasized employee safety was a top priority.