GE Cuts 10% of Aviation Jobs in Sign of Virus’s Deepening Impact

General Electric Co.’s aviation division will cut 10% of its U.S. workforce as the coronavirus outbreak saps demand for air travel and upends the global economy.

The maker of jet engines also plans to reduce some executive compensation and furlough half its domestic maintenance, repair and overhaul employees for 90 days. The moves are designed to save $500 million to $1 billion this year, Chief Executive Officer Larry Culp said in a statement Monday.

The job cuts underscore the deepening economic impact of the pandemic, as employers look to reduce spending and shore up their finances. The Trump administration and Congress are negotiating a broad stimulus package, while the U.S. Federal Reserve is stepping up efforts to backstop the economy.

“The aviation industry is feeling the impact of this global pandemic most acutely,” Culp said. “As a result, GE Aviation is announcing several steps that, while painful, preserve our ability to adapt as the environment continues to evolve.”

Job Loss

The shares fell less than 1% to $6.47 at 10:21 a.m. in New York. GE had tumbled 42% this year through March 20.

The company’s aviation division has 52,000 workers globally, about half of them in the U.S. That implies the loss of about 2,600 jobs under GE’s plan. While Monday’s actions only affect domestic employees, Culp said GE is working with “the appropriate parties to properly address its global workforce.”

Culp will forgo the remainder of his salary for 2020, while GE Aviation boss David Joyce will give up half of his salary.

GE’s financial position remains “sound,” Culp said, pointing to the $21.4 billion sale of the company’s biopharmaceuticals business to Danaher Corp., a deal that’s expected to close at the end of the month. GE also has about $17 billion of liquidity in its industrial businesses and access to $35 billion in credit facilities.

“However, what we don’t know about the magnitude and duration of this pandemic still outweighs what we do know,” Culp said.

While the Boston-based manufacturer supports efforts by the U.S. government to provide aid to the aviation industry and broader economy, Culp reiterated that the company hasn’t sought provisions “that would benefit GE exclusively.”

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