Boeing said Thursday that it will consolidate production of its two-aisle 787 jetliner in South Carolina and shut down the original assembly line for the plane near Seattle.
The company said the move will start in mid-2021. Boeing said it was acting to preserve cash while demand for new planes is suffering because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has torpedoed air travel.
The company did not immediately say whether jobs would be eliminated by the move.
The 787 is used mostly for international routes. Employees at Boeing’s plant in Everett, Washington, began building the plane in 2007, turning out a jetliner with a largely carbon composite fuselage for better fuel efficiency.
But, said Stan Deal, the CEO of Boeing’s commercial aircraft business, “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.”
Boeing opened a plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, in 2010 to begin producing a newer, larger version of the plane, the 787-10. Boeing said workers in Everett will continue it will continue making the smaller 787-8 and 787-9 models until the company cuts production to six 787s a month next year.
Boeing workers in the Seattle area will continue to assemble the company’s other jetliners, the 737, 747, 767 and 777.
Boeing announced this summer that it was studying the possibility of combining all 787 production at one location, and the newer South Carolina plant soon emerged as the favorite.