Boeing warns that it may pull out of Renton

Associated Press

RENTON — Boeing Co. will continue to produce its Boeing 737 and 757 commercial airplanes in Renton "for some years," Alan Mulally, head of Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes division, said Friday.

But Mulally warned that the city south of Seattle will have to become more competitive and take quicker action to improve problems such as traffic congestion if it wants to keep Boeing’s airplane production there over the long term.

"This is not the most competitive business environment that we operate in," Mulally warned members of the Greater Renton Chamber of Commerce at an annual luncheon.

Doing business in Renton, a 51,000-resident town centered around Boeing’s massive airplane production plant, can be costly and frustrating, Mulally said. Traffic has gotten so bad, he said, that aircraft parts must be delivered in the middle of the night, at considerable cost.

Mulally also chastised business people in the Seattle area for not acting quicker to solve traffic and other problems.

"I’ve never seen so much conversation and not getting anything done," he said.

Nevertheless, Mulally said Boeing is not immediately thinking of moving its Renton production operations to Everett, where its wide-body passenger jets are produced.

Boeing has acknowledged studying such a move, but Mulally reiterated Friday that it would not happen overnight.

"I see operations in Everett and Renton for some years to come," he told reporters after the luncheon.

Area businesses dependent on Boeing paychecks are already having to cope with Boeing’s plan to eliminate up to 30,000 jobs this year and next, many in the Puget Sound region.

The layoffs follow a massive downturn in the aviation industry, made worse by the September terrorist attacks, which has left many airlines in dire financial straits.

The layoffs are the second major blow to the area. In September, Boeing moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago, although its commercial division and most of its employees stayed here.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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