The Boeing Company, along with U.S. airlines and airports, are looking for financial help as coronavirus fears and cancelled flights have emptied planes.
Boeing is asking the government for $60 billion -- not just for itself, but to keep its 17,000 suppliers going, along with a total work force of more than two million. The company says 70 percent of the money used to purchase a new jet flows down to the suppliers who make parts and provide services.
The office of Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said negotiations are ongoing with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on a bailout package. Cantwell is pushing to support workers and the supply chain. About 1,000 of those 17,000 suppliers Boeing cites are in Washington state. Suppliers range from tiny companies employing a couple of people to large corporations such as General Electric that makes complex engines.
Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Everett) said he’s working to get Boeing’s needs covered, along with help for airlines and airports, which is already farther along. He and others expect European governments will be helping out Airbus.
On Friday afternoon, Boeing announced it was suspending its dividend “until further notice,” and will continue a hold on share repurchasing. Boeing President David Calhoun and Chairman Larry Kellner are forgoing all pay until the end of 2020.
But this isn’t just an economic challenge confronting the company, already weakened by two crashes of its new 737 MAX, which remains grounded world wide since March 13, 2019.
Boeing is already dealing with its own health crisis. As of Friday evening, Boeing said 20 employees company-wide have tested positive for coronavirus. Of those cases, 13 came from the sprawling Everett factory that makes wide-bodied jets like the 777.
Five other cases are distributed among Boeing’s other Puget Sound facilities, including Renton, Auburn and Long Acres. The biggest impact coming as 1,020 workers are at home on paid quarantine for coming into direct contact with employees who are testing sick or working in areas where they have potentially been exposed.