Boeing’s New 787s Flee Florence in a Cross-Country Exodus

(Bloomberg) -- If it can fly, it can evacuate. Boeing Co. flew at least eight of its 787 aircraft out of a South Carolina factory to Seattle on Tuesday ahead of Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm expected to strike the Carolinas later this week.

The Dreamliners escaped potential damage by flying cross-country to Paine Field, an airport adjacent to Boeing’s Everett, Wash., assembly plant, according to flight tracker Flightradar24.com. The bugout included two 787-9s destined for Hainan Airlines Holding Co. and a 787-10 for United Continental Holdings Inc., the first U.S. customer for the largest model of the widebody aircraft, which lists for a cool $325.8 million.

Boeing suspended operations at its North Charleston, S.C., assembly plant this morning as part of a mandatory evacuation order for coastal areas. The workers who prepared the jets for their trek were among the last to leave, according to a company message to employees. Florence grew larger on Tuesday with 130 mph winds. Landfall is expected late Thursday or early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina border.

The storm comes amid a production bottleneck for Boeing that’s left undelivered 787s stacking up at the plant and in Everett because of supplier issues. The company delivered only eight of the carbon-composite jets in July and August, falling short of its target of 12 per month.

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