Job losses in Washington state’s aviation sector are mounting as the coronavirus pandemic casts a deep shadow over air travel demand.
Swissport, which provides ground handling and fueling services for airlines, is laying off almost 300 workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
With international air travel not expected to recover for perhaps a couple of years, 131 of the Swissport layoffs are labeled permanent.
Toray Composites America, which supplies Boeing with the carbon fiber material for its composite airplane structures on the 787 and 777, announced 146 layoffs at its Frederickson plant near Tacoma, which has a workforce of roughly 600.
“It’s pretty dark,” said Tim Kirk, Toray’s vice president of aerospace sales. “There’s no good news coming out of Boeing right now.”
Kirk said the 787 Dreamliner is the airplane best positioned to recover sales. Still, he said, “demand for long-haul air travel is almost nonexistent now and will be slow to come back.”
Toray has also suspended operations at its in carbon fiber thread plant in Spartanburg, S.C ., with a loss of 100 jobs.
Of course, the biggest hit to Washington’s aerospace employment is at Boeing, which plans to cut almost 10,000 jobs.
While a large portion of those cuts will be achieved through voluntary buyouts and retirements, the jet maker has issued July 31 layoff notices to 5,798 workers.
The Boeing bust sends shock waves throughout its supply chain. Among the firms that have announced layoffs:
- Tool Gauge and Machine Works makes metal and thermoplastic airplane assemblies in Tacoma. It’s laying off 59 people.
- Sekisui Aerospace, formerly Aim Aerospace, manufactures composite parts at plants in Renton and Sumner. It’s laying off 111 people.
- Pioneer Human Services, a nonprofit providing jobs for people coming out of prison, manufactures metal airplane parts in Seattle. It’s laying off 59 people.
- Cadence Aerospace, Giddens Industries machines and manufactures airplane parts in Everett. It’s laying off 72 people.
Previously announced layoffs in the local industry included 142 at aircraft repair and overhaul firm Aviation Technical Services (ATS) in Everett.
And after Japanese planemaker Mitsubishi Aircraft announced a severe cutback to its SpaceJet program and the shuttering of its U.S. operations, it has announced 240 layoffs in Renton and at Moses Lake.
That list, which is not complete, already tallies almost 6,900 jobs lost through layoffs.