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2,800 Workers Laid Off at Wichita's Spirit AeroSystems, Amid 737 Max Shutdown

(Wilco737 / Flickr Creative Commons)

By Nadya Faulx & Tom Shine / KMUW Radio

Spirit AeroSystems will lay off 2,800 employees at its Wichita plant as the shutdown of the Boeing 737 Max program drags on.

The move comes just weeks after Boeing ordered Spirit to halt all deliveries of 737 Max components. Spirit produces about 70 percent of the jet at its facility in south Wichita, including the fuselage and parts of the wings. The program accounts for half of the company's annual revenue.

"The difficult decision announced today is a necessary step given the uncertainty related to both the timing for resuming 737 MAX production and the overall production levels that can be expected following the production suspension," Spirit CEO Tom Gentile said in a statement.

The company says employees will receive compensation during the required 60-day notice period. Employees will begin exiting on Jan. 22.

Spirit earlier this week said it was seeking voluntary layoffs. The company employs about 13,000 people in Wichita; it's the city's largest private employer.

Spirit also announced smaller layoffs later this month at its two facilities in Oklahoma.

The 737 Max was grounded last March following two fatal crashes. The FAA has not indicated when the jet might be cleared to return to service.

Gentile said in the statement that when production levels of the 737 Max "increase sufficiently in the future, we look forward to recalling employees impacted by today’s announcement."

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