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GE Aviation to Cut Up to 13K Jobs

May 6, 2020
The collapse of the commercial aviation sector is prompting the jet-engine builder to plan for up to 13,000 job cuts, or 25% of its total workforce.

The collapse of the commercial aviation sector has led GE Aviation to announce plans for extensive job cuts, up to 25% of its total workforce or about 13,000 employees. The reductions will begin with voluntary early retirements, though involuntary layoffs will follow.

GE Aviation manufactures a wide range of engines for civil and military aircraft, and until the past year the commercial aviation sector had seen consistent growth rates as passenger volumes increased and airlines made efforts to update their fleets. For GE the first wave of trouble was the idling of Boeing's 737 MAX series, for which it manufactures (by way of its CFM International joint-venture) the LEAB-1B turbofan engine.

Other major commercial aircraft programs for GE Aviation include the CFM56-7, GE90, GEnx and GE9x turbofan engines for Boeing's 777, 787, and 777x series.

Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has collapsed air traffic and prompted many airlines to cancel or amend their orders for new aircraft. In April, GE Aviation put forth plans to furlough its engine manufacturing staff for four weeks, to comply with social distancing efforts and to contain the spread of the pandemic. Prior to that, in March, it had planned to cut overall employment by about 10%, or 2,600 workers.

That earlier staff reduction would be included in the new downsizing plan.

Both Boeing Co. and Airbus SE have announced plans to scale back their production rates to address airlines' adjusted orders, affecting GE Aviation and other aircraft component and system suppliers.

“To protect our business, we have responded with difficult cost-cutting actions over the last two months. Unfortunately, more is required as we scale the business to the realities of our commercial market,” according to an employees' memo from GE Aviation CEO David Joyce.

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