What are the chances Boeing will build a new jet in Washington state again?

What are the chances Boeing will build a new jet in Washington state again?

EVERETT, Wash. — This week’s decision to move all 787 Dreamliner production out of Everett marks the first time Boeing has moved the commercial airliner assembly that started in Puget Sound out of Washington state.

Yes, other jets have gone away, the 707, 727, 757 — and by 2022, the Queen of the Skies, the 747, will also be gone.

But those programs did not fly away. Rather, those jets aged out as technology and demand changed.

In the case of the 787, Boeing moved its entire production line to its factories in South Carolina.

So, what about the next airplane, whether Boeing calls it the 797 or something else?

“I think Washington is still the incumbent, still the best place to build a jetliner,” said Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group headquartered near Washington, D.C. “That doesn’t mean it wins.”

In 2018, Aboulafia authored a report prepared for the biggest unions at Boeing to handicap the state’s chances in building what was thought at the time to be Boeing’s next new jet, the New Mid Market Airplane, or NMA.

The NMA, an attempt to fill a gap between the largest 737 and the smallest 787, had already started to fade in early 2020 before COVID-19 struck. But Boeing says it’s still considering that project and other new airplane development programs not yet named.

COVID-19 has shaken the world’s airlines like nothing else in recent years. In turn, that has forced most of them to put their new airplane orders on hold.

With 787 production planned to drop to just six airplanes per month by mid-2021, Boeing said on Thursday it simply can’t afford to maintain two production lines, one in Everett and the other in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Boeing is coming off its peak of 14 787s per month, split between the two factories.

The company built the second assembly line in the right-to-work state of South Carolina in 2009, after a series of strikes in Puget Sound.

In 2003, Washington had fought off other states by offering massive tax breaks to Boeing and other commercial airplane manufacturers, even the manufacture of parts to build things here.

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