Both Boeing And Airbus Now Have Confirmed Coronavirus Cases


Aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus now both have confirmed cases of employees who contracted coronavirus. Boeing confirmed that an employee at its Everett facility in Washington, USA, has been tested positive for COVID-19 on the 9th of March. Airbus released a statement just earlier today saying that one of its employees at the Getafe site in Spain had also tested positive.

Boeing confirmed its first case of coronavirus at its Everett factory employing 30,000 people early this week. Photo: Getty Images

Co-workers asked to self-quarantine

“As a precaution, we’ve asked all coworkers of the employee who were in close contact to remain home to self-quarantine and self-monitor, and we’ve conducted a thorough cleaning of the work areas and common spaces,” Boeing said in its statement Monday. The company reiterated a request that employees in the Puget Sound region work offsite or telecommute from home. 

Airbus echoed the same precautions for other employees in its announcement previously today. It also added that, “Health and safety is our number one priority. Airbus is following medical protocols from global and national health authorities and has implemented staff guidelines in relation to social interactions, hygiene, travel, and visits to Airbus.”  Both companies said that they are providing their full support to the affected individuals. 

Boeing 787 Dreamliner factory
Both aircraft manufacturers have asked co-workers to self-quarantine. Photo: Getty Images

Everett factory employs 30,000

According to Bloomberg, a worker with flu-like symptoms was sent home from the Everett 777 plant on Wednesday the 4th of March. Boeing said in a message to its employees that he didn’t require emergency care and was slated to follow up with his home doctor on Thursday. The company also said that it immediately began cleaning the work area where the man had been active.

10 close co-workers from the wide-body production lines were also sent home. The statement released five days later did not make clear whether or not it was the same employee that later tested positive for the virus. Boeing’s Everett factory currently employs 30,000 people. It produces the 747, the 767, the 777 and the 787 Dreamliner. 

The Airbus Getafe factory outside of Madrid is responsible for designing, engineering and manufacturing of components for all Airbus aircraft, such as horizontal stabilizers and tail cones for the double-decker A380, the widebody A350 XWB and the narrowbody A320 family. Its roughly 6,900 employees also serve Airbus Helicopters and Airbus Defence and Space. 

Airbus Hamburg
The Airbus factory at Hamburg. Photo: Airbus

Airbus final assembly delayed in China

Airbus was already suffering from the temporary closing for two weeks of their plant in Tianjin, China, last month as a result of the virus outbreak. The factory is a site for the final assembly of its A320neos, completing 10 aircraft per month, accounting for almost 10% of global production of the narrowbody aircraft. As airlines are requesting deferred deliveries of A320neos, this disruption in output capacity now seems less urgent. How much of a disruption to productivity will be caused in European sites is yet to be seen.

On a slightly more positive, or perhaps ironic, Boeing-related note, the coronavirus outbreak, now confirmed as a pandemic, is making it so that airlines no longer need to turn themselves inside out to manage their route capacity without the manufacturer’s grounded 737 MAX planes.