Employees react to Boeing’s layoff announcement

SEATTLE -- Boeing executives said during a conference call that white-collar jobs will represent a higher percentage of those laid off but, they added plants in South Carolina and Puget Sound will bear the brunt.

“You work with these people spending more time with the people at work than you do with your own family,” said one Boeing employee who agreed to speak to Q13 News on condition of anonymity. “To watch them get laid off, it’s hard.”

“The shop floor is kind of a jittery place right now,” said another employee, who has worked at Boeing for more than two decades. He too agreed to speak on the record but only anonymously. “Everybody’s more worried about COVID-19 than the layoff itself.”

Boeing leaders announced a plan to lay off 10% company-wide. In the commercial aircraft division, 15% of employees would be impacted.

In the first quarter, the company reported a $641 million loss.

Coupled with airlines across the globe seeing an unprecedented low number of customers, and the grounding of the 737 MAX, the coronavirus pandemic has hit the company in ways never before seen.

“This is worse than 9-11,” said industry analyst Scott Hamilton.

The layoffs are expected ripple into other sectors as each person Boeing employs spurs three to four other jobs outside the company.

“Across the globe, you will see airlines shut down," he added.

Boeing had already sought voluntary layoffs earlier this year.

The company has survived a crisis before. Now a pandemic that slashed demand for air travel, front line workers worry the global need for new aircraft will be depressed for years.

“Just in Paine Field field right now, there's approximately 40 Southwest Airlines that are parked,” added one of the men who spoke to Q13 News.

Another employee says he believed airline passengers would likely have to feel safe from viral infection before flying in large numbers.

Hamilton says it could take four to eight years to see air travel reach the same levels seen in 2019.