“Aviation Industry Will Need Government Support” – Boeing CEO

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In a press release today, Boeing published a letter that President and CEOUS Dave Calhoun sent to employees underlining the need for US government support to prop up airlines and the aerospace industry.

Boeing 777X Test Flight Getty Images
The first test flight of the Boeing 777X in January. Photo: Getty Images

The devastation caused by COVID-19

“Our industry took a step on the long road to recovery from the COVID-19 crisis this week.” the letter begins. Calhoun continues by presenting the stark numbers resulting from the pandemic. They include:

  • US$314 billion: The amount of global airline revenue estimated to be lost by the end of the year
  • 2,500: The number of aircraft grounded in the United States alone
  • 95%: The decline in passenger volume compared to last year

With these numbers, Calhoun underscores the need for government relief to maintain the strength of the aviation industry within the US economy, acknowledging that “full recovery will take years, not months”.

“Our industry will need the government’s support, which will be critical to ensuring access to credit markets and likely take the form of loans versus outright grants. The aerospace industry is a vital pillar of the economy, supported by 17,000 suppliers and 2.5 million jobs. For every dollar Boeing spends, approximately 70 cents goes directly to our suppliers.”

Boeing 737 MAX
2019 was bad enough with the 737 MAX grounding. Photo: Getty

The eventual return to work

“Following thorough reviews of local conditions, we’ve started restoring operations at some sites where work has been suspended.”

Calhoun goes on to provide an update for the return to work as conditions across the country improve. According to the letter, teams in the Puget Sound region (Washington State) and in Heath, Ohio will see operations start to resume.

The return to work will be a little different than before. In fact, this time around, there will be “a wide range of safety measures in place”, which include operating practices to enable physical distancing. These include:

  • Staggered shift times
  • Spread-out work areas and visual controls
  • Voluntary body temperature screenings
  • Constant visible reminders to wash hands and monitor personal well-being

Recent accomplishments made by the Boeing team include aircraft modifications for the US Navy, helicopter deliveries to the Royal Netherlands Air Force, and “good progress on returning the 737 MAX safely to service”.

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Boeing-787-manufacture-stopped-getty
A large portion of Washington State’s economy depends on Boeing. Photo: Getty Images.

Conclusion

Based on Calhoun’s introduction, he seems to indirectly call out the US government for bailing out the airline industry but not the aerospace manufacturing sector. What follows is justification for why Boeing should receive support, underlining its importance to the national economy.

Indeed, Boeing and the aerospace industry as a whole is a significant part of the economy. In fact, whole cities are directly and indirectly reliant on the employment that the company provides.

Given the close relationship that Boeing has with the US government, especially in terms of defense and national security, it is highly unlikely that the company will be forgotten in state-sanctioned relief efforts.

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Do you think the US government will be including Boeing in coronavirus relief efforts? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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