The Biden administration is making $482 million available to aviation industry manufacturers to help them avert job or pay cuts in the pandemic.
The taxpayer-funded relief will cover up to half of the payroll costs at 313 companies nationwide, according to the Transportation Department, which said Thursday will help save up to 22,500 manufacturing jobs.
In Washington state, 32 mostly smaller companies will benefit, receiving a total of $41 million. The Transportation Department lists that amount as protecting 2,280 local aerospace jobs. However, that total includes jobs at those companies in other states.
Participating companies must commit not to involuntarily furlough or lay off employees or reduce pay or benefits during the six-month period when they will receive the payroll support.
Aerospace manufacturing was severely depressed last year as air travel plummeted due to the spread of coronavirus. In recent months, the resurgence of disease due to the delta variant has again led to increased flight cancellations and diminished travel. More than 100,000 aerospace jobs have been lost in an industry that had employed about 2.2 million people, according to the Transportation Department.
Bolstering the Boeing supply chain
The largest recipient of the funds announced Monday is Spirit AeroSystems, a major Boeing supplier based in Kansas, which stands to get $75.5 million that the government says will help protect 3,214 jobs.
Parker-Hannifin of Ohio, which makes hydraulic systems for planes, will get $39.7 million. The avionics unit of Japan’s Panasonic, based in California, will get $25.8 million, and several U.S. subsidiaries of France’s Safran will get a total of $24.8 million.
In Washington state, Toray Composite Materials America, which makes carbon-fiber material for Boeing’s 787 and 777 in Frederickson, gets $6 million from the payroll support program.
State tax incentive disclosure filings show that after the pandemic hit the industry, employment at Toray’s Frederickson plant fell through layoffs and attrition from 630 people to just 400 by the end of last year. Since then it’s fallen slightly further.
The Transportation Department says the Toray grant will support 255 direct manufacturing jobs at its three U.S. plants, in Alabama, South Carolina and Washington.
Tim Kirk, Toray’s vice president of Aerospace Sales, said about 100 of those qualifying workers are at the Frederickson plant.
Another grant recipient is Electroimpact, which designs and builds aerospace manufacturing equipment in Mukilteo.
The company has lost about half its workforce during the pandemic and its business is likely to stay depressed until Airbus, Boeing and Embraer are ready to launch new airplane programs that need its high-tech equipment.
Electroimpact gets $4.1 million to support employees that qualify as working on direct manufacturing jobs, about 109 people, which chief of staff Ben Hempstead said is about one third of the current workforce.
“We’ll use 100% of these funds to retain our top-notch aerospace talent in the Mukilteo area,” said Hempstead.
Other Washington state recipients:
- Sekisui Aerospace (formerly called AIM), which makes carbon fiber composite parts for the 787 and 737 in Renton and Sumner, gets $5.9 million to support 325 jobs.
- ThyssenKrupp Materials, a logistics company with a local headquarters in Kent that delivers raw materials including aluminum and titanium to Boeing, gets $1.5 million to protect 198 jobs.
- Teague, which designs airplane structures, including cabin interiors, gets $1.4 million to protect 43 jobs in Seattle.
The amount of money each company got varied according to the proportion of their business that is aerospace work.
It’s difficult to track the in-state impact from the Department of Transportation data on jobs supported.
For example, the largest grant amount listed as for Washington state is earmarked for Senior Aerospace, a British-based conglomerate with two facilities in the state: AMT in Arlington, which makes structural parts for Boeing’s 737, 777 and 787 aircraft; and Damar Aerospace which machines parts for Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Spirit AeroSystems in Monroe and East Wenatchee.
Senior gets $10.9 million, which according to the Transportation Department will protect 630 jobs.
However, company spokesman Richard Webster-Smith, speaking from London, said that only about 120 of those jobs are at AMT and Damar in Washington state, the rest are at its facilities in California.
More funding later
Money for the aerospace companies is coming from a $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” package approved by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden in March.
The amount announced Monday is the first round of payroll support, with additional funding recipients to be announced later this fall.The government funding has to be matched by an equal investment from each company receiving the grants.
The Associated Press conributed to this report.