Boeing is “turning its back” on Washington as the company announced it will move production of the 787 Dreamliner from Washington to South Carolina, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said.
The rumors were originally reported by the Wall Street Journal. Then Boeing officially announced it would be “consolidating all of its production on the 787 Dreamliner in its South Carolina plant,” according to The State.
“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,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Stan Deal, according to the newspaper.
Inslee released a statement Oct. 1 following the official announcement from Boeing.
“Today’s announcement is an insult to the hardworking aerospace employees who build 787s,” Inslee said. “I recently asked Boeing’s leadership what the company needs to keep 787 production in Washington state. In all our conversations, they never asked for anything. I understand the serious market forces Boeing faces today. What I don’t understand is why the company can’t commit to restoring production here when the market for this plane improves.”
Everett’s mayor also expressed disappointment in Boeing’s decision in a statement released by her office on Oct. 1.
“The impact of losing the 787 line here in Everett will be deeply felt throughout our community,” Mayor Cassie Franklin said. “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.”
After reports surfaced that the company may be considering the change, the Washington governor threatened to take away the company’s “favorable tax treatment.” Inslee confirmed he will be reviewing the tax policy after Boeing made its announcement.
“Washington state has supported the company with a well-trained workforce, a robust supply line, unparalleled infrastructure, world-class research institutions and the best business climate in America,” Inslee said in a Sept. 30statement. “If this report is true, it would force a review of that partnership, including a hard look at the company’s favorable tax treatment.”
NEW: @GovInslee says if @Boeing moves 787 production to S.C., it "would be turning its back on the finest workers" and would "force a review" of company's tax breaks. #waleg pic.twitter.com/zPBkUu79bs— Jim Brunner (@Jim_Brunner) September 30, 2020
Washington started the tax break program for commercial airplane production in 2003, KING reported. That program was extended in 2013 so that the tax breaks would continue from 2024 to 2040, according to KING.
Inslee is not the only lawmaker in Washington who condemned Boeing’s decision. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, released a statement expressing the move would be “shortsighted and misplaced.”
“The Pacific Northwest is home to the best aviation and aerospace workforce in the world. The strength of the Pacific Northwest’s aviation and aerospace industry includes the region’s strong education system, trained workforce, robust supply chain, extensive manufacturing experience and overall quality of life,” Larsen said. “As the economy comes back and air travel returns, I will fight to bring 787 production back to Everett.”
South Carolina has been home to the 787’s final assembly since 2010, The State reported. Boeing reportedly made the decision to “reduce expenses to preserve liquidity and reposition certain lines of business to become more efficient for the long term,” according to the newspaper.
As it was, aft- and mid-fuselage sections were built in Everett and flown by Dreamlifter cargo planes to North Charleston, according to The Seattle Times. With the move, Boeing would simply have to move these parts on the ground to get from one building in Charleston to the next, the Seattle Times reported.
Boeing is currently Everett’s largest employer, with a workforce of about 35,000 employees, KING reported.
“We have asked the Boeing Company multiple times what it needs to keep 787 production in Washington,” Inslee said in his earlier statement. “We’ve heard nothing back. Nor have we heard anything about how to restart this work when conditions improve. This move would signal an allegiance to short-term profits and Wall Street - not quality, safety and a vision for the future of the industry...The future is here. I stand ready to work with the Boeing Company to keep production here, and with the workforce to ensure regardless of outcome, that we keep a strong aerospace sector alive in Washington State.”