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Spirit suspends Boeing work due to coronavirus pandemic; job cuts could be ahead

Spirit AeroSystems will shut down production of parts for Boeing in Wichita for the next two weeks as both companies grapple with the coronavirus pandemic and business issues it’s causing.

Boeing on Monday announced it is halting production for two weeks at its plants in the greater Seattle area, one of the nation’s hardest-hit by the coronavirus COVID-19 disease.

Spirit, a major supplier of Boeing parts and subassemblies, will mirror the larger company’s actions, suspending work on Boeing contracts at its facilities in Wichita, Tulsa and McAlester, Okla., the company announced in a statement early Tuesday morning.

The suspension of work will start Wednesday and continue until April 8.

“Spirit will use the time to further deep clean and sanitize work spaces and facilities as we continue to take precautions to protect the health and safety of our team,” the statement said. “Our focus is on a safe and orderly restart of operations.”

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Spirit employees who work on those contracts will be paid for the two weeks, but their ongoing employment depends on what Boeing does next, the company statement said.

“When production does resume on our Boeing programs, we will align our costs and workforce to the new level of production set by Boeing,” the statement said. ”This could potentially include additional workforce actions.”

The suspension will not include Spirit’s contracts to supply parts to Boeing rival Airbus, or the manufacturing of aftermarket parts, the statement said.

It’s not the first time Boeing woes have put a hurt on Spirit and its workers.

Earlier this year, Spirit laid off about 2,800 workers due to the worldwide grounding of the 737 Max jetliner, after two catastrophic crashes killed hundreds overseas.

Spirit makes the fuselage for the jet and has dozens in storage waiting for Boeing to resume production of the plane once it’s allowed to return to flight service.

Senior Journalist Dion Lefler has been providing award-winning coverage of local government, politics and business in Wichita for 20 years. Dion hails from Los Angeles, where he worked for the LA Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News and other papers. He’s a father of twins, director of lay servant ministries in the United Methodist Church and plays second base for the Old Cowtown vintage baseball team.
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