Boeing's 737 MAX is Back in Business but at a Lower Rate

Along with the good comes some fairly grim news as Boeing cuts nearly 13,000 jobs.
Fabienne Lang

Some good news for the aviation industry, and Boeing: the aircraft giant has resumed production of its 737 MAX planes, albeit at a low rate.

At the same time, almost 13,000 Boeing employees, based mostly in the U.S., will be losing their jobs in the coming weeks, as per the company's announcement on Wednesday.


A light at the end of the tunnel

A little beacon of hope for the aviation industry was shown on Wednesday when the company announced it was resuming production of its 737 MAX planes at its Renton, Washington, factory, albeit at a "low rate."

It's an exciting moment for the company, which suffered two fatal 737 Max plane crashes last year, grounding its planes worldwide. The plane has slowly been building momentum back up, with airlines having placed orders with Boeing over the past few months. 

"We’ve been on a continuous journey to evolve our production system and make it even stronger," said Walt Odisho, vice president and general manager of the 737 program. "These initiatives are the next step in creating the optimal build environment for the 737 MAX."

The company hasn't been sitting idly as it was waiting to resume production, the team has been busy creating new processes that will make production as seamless and smooth for its employees. 

"The steps we’ve taken in the factory will help drive our goal of 100 percent quality for our customers while supporting our ongoing commitment to workplace safety," said Scott Stocker, vice president of 737 Manufacturing.

That said, the company's chief executive Dave Calhoun cautioned "But these signs of eventual recovery do not mean the global health and economic crisis is over. Our industry will come back but it will take some years to return to what it was just two months ago."

More than half involuntary layoffs

As the aviation industry suffers a number of blows during the current global situation, Boeing has had to make some big decisions. Many layoffs are expected in the coming weeks and months, to a total of around 16,000 jobs, as the aircraft making giant cuts its global workforce by 10%

In a letter to staff, chief executive of Boeing Dave Calhoun said "I wish there were some other way."

The company has been suffering from a drop in demand for aircraft, as flight demands have significantly dropped during the pandemic. In April, there were over 100 cancelations of the 737 Max, and Boeing confirmed it has yet to receive any new orders. 

Of the roughly 13,000 job cuts Boeing has confirmed, 6,670 are involuntary, and 5,520 are voluntary redundancies in the U.S. The majority of the cuts, over 9,800 employees, have been made in Washington State.

The future is an uncertain one for the travel industry, however, many people and companies are working hard to find solutions that could enable flying to increase in a safe manner, which will hopefully help the industry to bounce back.