Coronavirus prompts thousands of furloughs at jet maker Textron

Beechcraft King Air turboprop aircraft are seen on the assembly line at the Textron Aviation Inc. production facility in Wichita, Kansas, U.S., on Thursday, June 7, 2018.

Luke Sharett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Business-jet maker Textron Aviation on Wednesday said it will furlough thousands of U.S. employees, as the rapid spread of coronavirus hurts the aviation industry and other sectors.

The maker of Cessna and Beechcraft airplanes said it will furlough workers on a staggered schedule from March 23 through May 29. The company declined to say how many it is furloughing but a spokeswoman said it applies to “most” of its U.S. workers, which number 12,000.

Shares of Textron fell 8% to close at $25.79.

“This decision will allow us to do our part in mitigating and containing the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing, while continuing to support our customers,” Ron Draper, the Textron unit’s CEO told employees in a note, which was seen by CNBC. “Due to anticipated market conditions, we are adjusting production to align with anticipated market production. This is a very difficult first step in responding to a situation that has affected our entire world.”

Air travel demand has been devastated by coronavirus as companies scale back on business trips and travel restrictions. Boeing on Tuesday said it was seeking government support of $60 billion for itself and the aviation industry.

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