McAlester to lose Spirit Aerosystems plant


An estimated 175 workers will lose their jobs as Wichita, Kansas-based Spirit Aerosystems plans to close its plant in McAlester, Oklahoma. The company blames the aviation market downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX.

The closing affects 177 employees, according to a source familiar with the situation reported the McAlester News-Capital.

“Spirit AeroSystems now has an excess of production capacity across our global operations,” the company said in a press release. “As a result, we have made the difficult decision to close our facility in McAlester, Oklahoma. We know this will be a hardship for our employees and the community, and we are committed to working with them through this transition.”

The company said the fall-off in airline travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced overall demand for new commercial airplanes.

“In a matter of months, Spirit’s production rates for commercial aircraft fell from historic highs to much lower volumes,” Spirit said. “Airline travel, and corresponding demand for new airplanes, is not returning as fast as expected at this point. As a result, we continue taking steps to restructure our company for a protracted market downturn, including consolidating certain operations.”

McAlester Area Chamber Of Commerce CEO Krystal Bess said she will work with the Southern Workforce Board, Express Employment Professionals and other agencies to provide job assistance for any impacted employees.

The 737 MAX was grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration and other civil aviation authorities throughout the world in March 2019 following two crashes within five months in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed a total of 346 people.

Boeing announced in December 2019 that the company would halt production of the 737 MAX with no date for it to resume.

In January, Spirit announced layoffs at the McAlester, Tulsa, and Wichita, Kansas plants due to “ongoing uncertainty regarding the timing of when production will resume and the level of production when it does resume” of the 737 MAX and “allows Spirit to begin aligning its cost structure to the production suspension and, after such suspension, what Spirit expects will be production levels lower than Spirit’s levels in 2019.”

A Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification Act (WARN) submitted by Spirit to the state showed 134 workers were affected by the January layoff.


Source: McAlester News-Capital