Spirit AeroSystems

Spirit AeroSystems is furloughing employees at its Tulsa facility (above) and McAlester facility for three weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World file

Spirit AeroSystems will implement 21-calendar-day furloughs beginning Wednesday for all employees at plants in Tulsa and McAlester, impacting hundreds of workers.

The news first reported by Wichita Eagle follows Boeing’s announcement of plans to suspend production indefinitely at its site in Washington state.

Spirit also is extending its suspension of work on Boeing commercial programs at facilities at its headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, Tulsa, McAlester and San Antonio, Texas.

The company didn’t immediately disclose how many employees would be affected. But in January, when Spirit announced 130 layoffs in McAlester and planned layoffs in Tulsa, a reported 300 worked in McAlester and 1,400 in Tulsa.

“These actions are being taken as a means to lessen the impact of the Boeing suspension and to keep the workforce in place for the future,” Spirit spokeswoman Keturah Austin wrote in an email. “The company continues to work with customers to gain visibility on the restart of production and expected future production rates.”

Although Spirit employees will be unpaid during the furloughs, benefits, including health care, will continue over that span.

Managers and hourly employees in Wichita and San Antonio directly associated with production work on a Boeing commercial program also will be placed on a 21-day furlough effective Wednesday.

All other nonrepresented and represented salary employees in Wichita will begin four-day work weeks effective Friday until further notice.

In addition, all U.S-based executives and Spirit’s board of directors will take a 20% reduction in pay until further notice.

Over the course of about five months, two Boeing 737 Maxes crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia, killing 346 people. Faults in the plane’s design have been tied to the crashes, and aviation authorities grounded the jets in March 2019.

Spirit is a significant supplier in the 737 Max program, with its workshare accounting for 70% of the airplane’s structure. This includes the entire fuselage, thrust reversers, engine pylons and wing components. In addition, the Max represents more than 50% of Spirit’s annual revenue.

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Rhett Morgan 918-581-8395


Twitter: @RhettMorganTW