By Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff
Everett, Wash. – Airline manufacturer The Boeing Company will be moving all future production of the 787 Dreamliner entirely to South Carolina due to economic circumstances, leaving regional leaders wary of how it will further jeopardize local economy.
As the aerospace industry continues to feel the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Boeing Co. will consolidate the production of its 787 Dreamliner at its facility in North Charleston, South Carolina starting in 2021.
“The Boeing 787 is the tremendous success it is today thanks to our great teammates in Everett,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and Chief Executive Officer Stan Deal said in a release.” They helped give birth to an airplane that changed how airlines and passengers want to fly. As our customers manage through the unprecedented global pandemic, to ensure the long-term success of the 787 program, we are consolidating 787 production in South Carolina.”
The 787 is currently produced in Everett and North Charleston. The decision to discontinue its production in Snohomish County comes as an economizing measure in response to the airline industry’s hard blow throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday, October 1, Boeing confirmed the move, saying it is strategically taking action to preserve liquidity and reposition certain lines of business in the current global environment to enhance efficiency and improve performance for the long-term.
Boeing has been in Everett for more than 50 years, assembling the Dreamliner in the county for over a decade. In 2007, the 787-8 and 787-9 models began production in Everett. In 2010, the company purchased its South Carolina facility, assembling the 787-10 model there.
“Production of the 787 models will continue in Everett through mid-2021 when its assembly ceases. Boeing’s Everett factory will continue to produce the 747, 767, 777, and KC-46 Pegasus airplanes,” said Deal.
Approximately 1,000 Boeing workers’ jobs are at risk due to the decision, potentially lost without the need for production work, fabrication and interior cabin shops, and support employees for the assembly of the 787 airplanes.
“The 787 Dreamliner is Everett’s most significant jet assembly line,” said City of Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson. “As Congressman Larsen stated, this move seems shortsighted and misplaced. While Washington would continue to have more than 70,000 aerospace employees, this move could jeopardize as many as 1,000 Washington jobs.”
Boeing employees began feeling the pandemic’s impact on the travel industry even before the statement of the move to consolidate the 787 productions. In mid-September Boeing announced that over 12,500 jobs would be cut in Washington throughout the year due to layoffs and buyouts.
Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin issued a statement in response to Boeing’s dismantlement of 787 productions in the city, saying that the decision is ‘incredibly sad’ and that the impact of losing its production will be ‘deeply felt’ throughout the community.
“This has been a tremendously difficult year for our city, our economy and our community,” said Franklin. “The global pandemic has completely changed our entire way of life, causing sickness and tragic loss of life, anxiety and uncertainty, and widespread economic damage….The impact of losing the 787 line here in Everett will be deeply felt throughout our community. We have been home to the Boeing Company and its workers and families for more than 50 years. Boeing has helped shape our character and culture as a city. We are incredibly sad to see our Dreamliner, and the team that worked on it, leave us.”
The aerospace industry is an economic driver in the state. AeroSpace Works for Economic Impact study found it supporting 10% of the state of Washington’s economy in 2018. Further, aerospace workers and spending support a large amount of business activity in the Everett and Lynnwood area.
“Workers in the aerospace sector support the equivalent of three car dealerships or a total of 1,800 cars each year purchased by aerospace workers,” reads the report. “Typical dining out patterns, assuming most of their spending is local to them support $76 million in sales at restaurants and drinking places, which equates to nearly 1,300 restaurant workers and 89 individual restaurants. Additional retail spending by aerospace workers supports nearly 900,000 square feet of retail space, nearly $300 million in retail sales.”
Mayor Franklin says that the city of Everett will do all that it can to ensure that Boeing and its many aerospace partners continue to thrive in the years to come.
“Despite the challenging times we all are experiencing, I know that Boeing and the aerospace sector will come back strong,” said Franklin. “I look forward to working with Boeing and all of our aerospace partners to continue to foster growth and innovation for the future of aerospace, so that the world’s best planes can continue to take flight from Everett.”