Boeing to sack 28,000 workers

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The Independent Online
BOEING, the world's biggest aircraft manufacturer and America's leading exporter, plans to make 28,000 employees, or about 20 per cent of its worldwide workforce, redundant over the next two years.

Some 23,000 will lose their jobs this year, 15,000 of them from manufacturing plants around Boeing's Seattle headquarters.

Most of Boeing's key customers, airlines suffering from a fall in air travel, have cancelled or delayed orders for new passenger jets, and last month Boeing announced plans to cut production by a third over the next 18 months.

'This is clearly a reflection of the cyclical business we're in,' Frank Shrontz, chief executive, said. 'In the long term, the projections (for the airlines) are bullish but it's going to take them some time to recover.'

The slower manufacturing schedules cover all existing models, with total production falling to 340 jets this year from 441 in 1992. But the cut will not affect development of Boeing's new wide-bodied 777, the first of which is to be delivered to United Airlines in 1995.

Boeing warned of 'significant' job losses last month when it released its year-end results, and Mr Shrontz called the redundancies 'the worst-kept secret in town'. The announcement is none the less a blow, coming only a day after President Bill Clinton stressed the importance of the aerospace industry to America's future.

Mr Clinton has put some of the blame for lost aerospace jobs on European government subsidies to the Airbus consortium. Despite an international accord on the issue last year, he has said he is 'not going to roll over and play dead' in the face of unfair competition.

Boeing has consistently held about 60 per cent of the global jet market, but the third-ranking producer, McDonnell Douglas, has lost sales to Airbus.

Boeing's 1992 operating earnings of dollars 1.6bn ( pounds 1.1bn) represented a slight improvement on the previous year, but the fourth quarter saw profits decline as the result of slowing orders, both from passenger carriers and the military.

In afternoon trading, Boeing's shares were unchanged at 33 3/4.