Boeing Strike Being Felt by Subcontractors : Aerospace: Northrop Grumman to furlough workers, including 1,000 in Hawthorne. Carriers juggle flight schedules.


Ripples from the 2-month-old strike against Boeing Co. are disrupting some of the airplane builder's subcontractors, including Northrop Grumman Corp., which Wednesday announced a two-week furlough of 6,450 workers--including 1,000 in Hawthorne--because of the walkout.

Several airlines are also having to juggle their flight schedules because the strike is delaying their ability to take delivery of Boeing jets they have ordered.

For example, Southwest Airlines said it will cut 16 flights from its schedule beginning Feb. 27 because newly ordered aircraft have not arrived as scheduled. The Dallas-based carrier, which flies only Boeing 737 twinjets, said the cancellations will include flights between Oakland and Phoenix and between Oakland and Spokane, Wash.

More than 300 California subcontractors manufacture everything from fuselages to nuts and bolts for Boeing, the world's largest commercial plane maker. The strike by 32,500 machinists--nearly a third of the Seattle-based company's work force--has left Boeing unable to assemble jets as quickly as planned, causing stockpiles of several subcontractors' parts to bulge.

Boeing expected to deliver 235 planes this year. But it had shipped only 195 through November.

"We'll continue to deliver airplanes as we can," spokesman Bill Curry said.

On Tuesday, Boeing and the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said their negotiators were resuming talks aimed at ending the strike.

Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman had already stopped shipping completed parts to Boeing, including fuselages for the 747 jumbo jet that are built at its Hawthorne plant, but the company then decided to furlough its workers next month "to avoid an excessive buildup of inventory," spokeswoman Georgia Engle said.

"You can't go on indefinitely making tails and other parts if they're not put on finished airplanes," she said.

The company normally shuts down from Christmas through New Year's Day, but is extending the closure until mid-January, she said.

Other subcontractors that make parts that are much smaller than fuselages--and thus are easier to store until the strike ends--are feeling less impact from the walkout, which began Oct. 6.

Parker Bertea Aerospace in Irvine has slowed its production of Boeing equipment, but no orders have been canceled and no workers have been furloughed, spokeswoman Cheryl Morosco said. Parker Bertea, a unit of Parker-Hannifin Corp., makes fuel equipment and hydraulic parts for Boeing and employs 1,500 in the Irvine area.

Two other suppliers--Torrance-based AlliedSignal Aerospace, which builds wheels, brakes and auxiliary power units, and fastener producer Valley Todeco Inc. in Sylmar--reported that they are still filling orders and have made no changes in employment.

In the airline industry, Southwest is not the only carrier having to make adjustments because of the strike.

United Airlines canceled plans last week for additional service between Miami and Sao Paulo, Brazil, because the strike pushed back delivery of a 300-seat 777 it ordered.

Northwest Airlines, which has received only two of the five Boeing 757 jetliners it expected this year, is evaluating several options to weather the strike but so far has not canceled any service, spokesman Jim Faulkner said. One option is to keep flying older planes that Northwest had planned to retire, he said.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World