CHICAGO — Boeing will begin involuntary layoffs this week, company President and CEO Dave Calhoun announced in a letter to employees Wednesday.
The first 6,770 U.S. Boeing workers impacted by the layoffs will be notified this week. The employees will be provided severance pay, COBRA health care coverage, and career transition services, according to the letter.
Boeing said the 6,770 employees impacted are in addition to the approximately 5,520 U.S. employees who were approved for a voluntary layoff and will leave the company in the coming weeks. In all, the company said around 9,840 of its employees in Washington state were approved for voluntary layoffs or will receive notice of an involuntary layoff.
"The COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on the airline industry means a deep cut in the number of commercial jets and services our customers will need over the next few years, which in turn means fewer jobs on our lines and in our offices,” Calhoun wrote. "We have done our very best to project the needs of our commercial airline customers over the next several years as they begin their path to recovery.
"I wish there were some other way," the letter continued.
A Boeing spokesperson said Wednesday's actions represent the largest number of job cuts, but several thousand additional jobs will be eliminated in the next few months.
Last month, Boeing said at least 16,000 employees could be laid off in total due to the coronavirus impact.
The union plans to meet with Boeing on Thursday.
Boeing has seen a downturn in business that started with the grounding of its best-selling jet and has accelerated because of the coronavirus pandemic. The company reported a loss of $641 million in the first quarter. It earned $2.15 billion in the same period last year. Revenue fell 26%, to $16.91 billion.
Though Calhoun said there are signs of "eventual" economic recovery, he wrote the crisis is not over.
"Our industry will come back, but it will take some years to return to what it was just two months ago," he said.
Air travel within the U.S. tumbled 96% by mid-April, to fewer than 100,000 people on some days. It has recovered slightly. The Transportation Security Administration said it screened 264,843 people at airports on Tuesday, a drop of 89% compared with the same Tuesday a year ago.