Boeing To Close Renton Plant?

Fri Jan 26, 2001 11:59 am

From our friends at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

No decision made on closing of Boeing Renton plant

Thursday, January 25, 2001


The Boeing Co. said Thursday it has not made any decision about closing its 737 and 757 production plant in Renton and shifting the work to Everett where it now manufactuers widebody jetliners, but the company did not deny that such a plan has been discussed or is being seriously considered.

BusinessWeek online reported yesterday that Boeing executives will go to the board next month and recommend that the Renton assembly factory be shutdown in a phased process that could take up to seven years to complete.

About 8,000 Boeing employees work at the plant, which was initially used to build B-29 bombers during World War II.

Any move to close the facility would mean a nasty fight with Boeing's unions.

A high level Boeing source disputed the main point of the BusinessWeek story that executives will seek board approval in February for their shutdown plans, which the magazine said would save the company an estimated $1 billion a year.

Executives would not go to the board before they have made a decision and no decision has been made, said the source.

In a four paragraph statement that was approved by Alan Mulally, president of Boeing's commercial airplanes group, the company did not say the BusinessWeek story is entirely wrong.

"We have not made decisions regarding shutting down the Renton plant or any other of our facilities other than those that were previously announced," the statement said in part.

"We have been working on our asset utilization challenge for years," the statement continued. "We are continually studying ways to be competitive. Awareness of our various studies have led to rumors about possible decisions. Since study activity is continuing we won't comment or speculate on possible outcomes or individual scenarios until a decision is made."

Boeing corporate spokesman Larry McCracken said he could not comment beyond the statement.

Rumors have swept through Boeing's rank and file for months that the company might close its Renton plant.

©2001 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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RE: Boeing To Close Renton Plant?

Fri Jan 26, 2001 12:04 pm

Why would they close the plant? They would have to just rebuild up in everett.
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RE: Boeing To Close Renton Plant?

Fri Jan 26, 2001 12:23 pm

I wonder if Larry McCracken is in any way related to Phil McCracken.
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RE: Boeing To Close Renton Plant?

Fri Jan 26, 2001 12:23 pm

No- have you ever seen their Everett facility? They have tons of room up there that they could be using more efficiently. Though I would hate to see the plant just down the road be shut down, it sure would help the company. RNT has a long history with the Boeing Co....
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RE: Boeing To Close Renton Plant?

Fri Jan 26, 2001 12:45 pm

Well, the Everett plant does have one excess unused production bay that could be used to start up either 757 or 737 production at Everett, but I would think that another bay would be needed to bring both up to Everett, although they don't take that long to build.

The problem with moving production out of Renton is that the local roads and infrastructure CAN NOT in it's current or immediatly planned condition handle the extra load of those workers all heading to Everett from the south end of the Seattle area. A lot of people that work at Renton do not want to move up to Everett or the north end because of the usually higher costs of living as well as the fact that the area is different than the south end and some prefer the south end better. (It is not that Everett is a bad area to live, it's just a matter of preference as I know some people up around Everett that don't want to move to Renton.)

As much as shifting the work and workers from Renton to Everett would shift a large burden onto already crowded local roads, Renton is not exactly an idea place to build new, modern airplanes. While the main production buildings are fairly well updated to modern safety and design standards, there are many smaller buildings around them that date back to the 1940s and are in need of repair or in some cases replacement.

Also, Renton is not a very big airport, the one runway is less than 6,000ft and dead ends to the north at Lake Washington. And since the jetliners are prohibited from taking off to the south because of the city of Renton being right there, they can only take off to the north over the lake and should a plane have to abort a takeoff and run off the end of the runway, they will be lucky if it doesn't end up in the lake. The area around the production plant is very cramped and there is limited land that borders onto the airport as to the west is a large hill. Also, because of the river that runs right next to the plant, the area is rather prone to flooding and that is not a good thing when you are trying to deliver planes on time.

While I would be sad to see the Renton plant close, I can understand why it is not an ideal place for building jetliners. The airport just was not designed for them and is much better suited to Cessna 172s than 737s.
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RE: Boeing To Close Renton Plant?

Fri Jan 26, 2001 1:55 pm

IMHO, this will not happen. Although I agree that it could save the company money, as Asqx already mentioned, there is not the infrastructure to support the addtional workforce of 757 and 737 production at Everett. Hell, the area can barely handle the widebody workforce it already has. Anyone who has ever tried going from Lynnwood to Marysville between 2:30 and 6 in the afternoon knows what I'm talking about. A standard 15-25 minute trip at non-peak times becomes a 2-3 hour nightmare. Imagine if you increased the workforce by 50%. Doing constant staggered shift changes might allow it to remain constant, but it would make that nightmare last all day. Plus, you must consider parking at the plant, flight line availability, impact on the local airport (Paine Field is a large recreation flying airport), and of course, housing for the employees who have to move.

IMO, Boeing should look at building a new plant for the 737/757, as well as they're eventual replacement, at Grant County airport in Moses Lake. This area has plenty of room to expand, although I must admit, it wouldn't be an ideal place to live.

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RE: Boeing To Close Renton Plant?

Fri Jan 26, 2001 2:46 pm

Has anybody ever seen any articles about Airbus Industrie closing any facilities ?
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RE: Boeing To Close Renton Plant?

Fri Jan 26, 2001 3:14 pm

Hi, here is another good news article on possible move of 737 and 757 assembly line. Check it out.

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RE: Boeing To Close Renton Plant?

Fri Jan 26, 2001 3:40 pm

My father surveyed for the highway that passes by Renton in 1968. He'd probably be a bit saddened to learn that the plant may close. When we visited Seattle a few years ago we were surprised by the lack of activity in the area.
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Carioca Canuck

Fri Jan 26, 2001 5:29 pm

What does your statement have to do with Boeing? Nothing. Boeing would be shutting down the facility, because it would move it elsewhere. Don't be ignorant, and try and start s*it.
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RE: Boeing To Close Renton Plant?

Fri Jan 26, 2001 7:42 pm

This puzzles me. I thought that Boeing did not have enough Mfg capacity in Washington State, and had tried before to move 737 production to the ex-McD facilities in Long Beach, which angered the EU.
Could Everett handle all the wide- and narrowbodies? Are they subcontracting more parts of the planes? Are they looking for other sites for the narrowbody assemblies? Or has Boeing forecast deteriorated so much as to concentrate all the commercial plane assembly in one site?

RE: Boeing To Close Renton Plant?

Fri Jan 26, 2001 9:51 pm


Relax, man! He was just asking a question, which IS related to the topic: closing down production facilities. The way I read it, it didn't sound like he was starting a war of any kind, he was just asking a simple question.

Carioca Canuck,

Rumors have been flying around that Airbus would shut down the A320 facility in Toulouse and move it to Hamburg, where the A319, A321 and soon A318 are assembled.
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RE: Boeing To Close Renton Plant?

Fri Jan 26, 2001 10:18 pm

Perhaps I missinterpreted the post. If so, my fault.
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RE: Boeing To Close Renton Plant?

Sat Jan 27, 2001 12:16 am

I think closing down the plant at Renton could end up being a very expensive mistake. It would cost Boeing many billions of dollars to build up their Everett, WA plant to accommodate 737/757 production.

Frankly, Boeing can't afford to close it down anyways. They're so stacked up with 737NG orders that it would be impossible to do the conversion immediately.

If Boeing really wants to shut down Renton, they have two choices: 1) move the production to the former McDonnell-Douglas facilities at Long Beach, CA or 2) move the production to Boeing's Wichita, KS plant. The second option is actually a very viable one since 737 fuselages are assembled at Wichita, so now Boeing will no longer need to ship the fuselages across the country from Kansas to Washington state.

As for Airbus, moving all A318/A319/A320/A321 production to Hamburg actually makes sense; that way, the Hamburg plant can concentrate on narrow-body plant production and the Toulouse plant can concentrate on A330/A340/A380 production, especially given that the floor space needed for A380 production is going to be HUGE.
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RE: Boeing To Close Renton Plant?

Sat Jan 27, 2001 12:50 am

If boeing moved the production to PAE, it would save them a billion dollars per year. Also they say if they move the city of Renton will go down hill.