Boeing confirms it will consolidate 787 production in South Carolina

Updated: Oct. 1, 2020 at 5:38 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Airline manufacturer Boeing confirmed Thursday will move all 787 production to the Palmetto State in 2021.

That means all of the production of its 787 Dreamliner will move to its North Charleston facility beginning in mid-2021, the company said in a news release.

“The decision comes as the company is strategically taking action to preserve liquidity and reposition certain lines of business in the current global environment to enhance efficiency and improve performance for the long-term,” the release states.

The 787 is currently produced in North Charleston and at a plant in Everett, Washington.

“The Boeing 787 is the tremendous success it is today thanks to our great teammates in Everett. They helped give birth to an airplane that changed how airlines and passengers want to fly. 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 Commercial Airplanes President and Chief Executive Officer Stan Deal said.

“South Carolina is open for business. We are committed to helping Boeing - and businesses large and small - grow and prosper in our state," Gov. Henry McMaster said. "Today’s announcement is a testament to our hardworking people, and to the fact that companies know they can find long-term success right here in South Carolina.”

The company began assembling 787-8 and 787-9 airplanes at its Everett site in 2007, and brought the North Charleston facility on line as a second final assembly line in 2010. However, only the North Charleston site is set up to build the larger 787-10 model. Production of the smaller 787 models will continue in Everett until the program transitions to the previously-announced production rate of six airplanes a month in 2021.

“Our team in Puget Sound will continue to focus on efficiently building our 737, 747, 767 and 777 airplane families, and both sites will drive Boeing initiatives to further enhance safety, quality, and operational excellence,” Deal said.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement Thursday on Boeing’s decision, saying his state remains “the best place in the world to build airplanes.”

“Boeing’s success as a company is a credit to the workers and taxpayers of Washington state," Inslee ssaid in the statement. "Today’s announcement is an insult to the hardworking aerospace employees who build 787s.”

Inslee said he recently asked Boeing’s leadership what the company would need to keep 787 production in his state, saying 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,” he said. “This news falls hardest on the more than 1,000 Washington workers who build the 787, and many more who face uncertainty as a result of this decision. The aerospace industry will remain a major employer in our state with about 70,000 workers. The state is committed to maintaining support for those companies and workers. But Boeing’s decision to take the 787 to South Carolina necessitates a review of our partnership and the company’s favorable tax treatment. We have the most talented workforce in the world and unparalleled infrastructure. We are consistently the top-ranked state for workers and businesses, and there remains a competitive business environment for aerospace manufacturing in our state.”

In July, Boeing announced an in-depth study into the feasibility of producing 787s at a single location. The review examined the impacts and benefits to Boeing customers, suppliers, employees and the overall health of the production system. The 787 study is part of an enterprise review underway to reassess all aspects of Boeing’s facility footprint, organizational structure, portfolio and investment mix, and supply chain health and stability.

The company announced in April it would reduce 787 production to only 10 planes per month, but in the July report, it said it was further reducing production to just six per month.

The confirmation comes a day after a Wall Street Journal report stated the company was finalizing plans for such a move.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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