Rolls-Royce Pauses U.K. Engine Output for Virus Measures

(Bloomberg) --

Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc will wind down jetliner engine production in the U.K. to spend a week implementing cleanup and safety measures to cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

The company, which makes turbines for wide-body planes, will “significantly reduce” all but essential activities at its U.K. civil aerospace facilities starting at midnight, it said in a statement Friday. Safety-related procedural changes may force Rolls-Royce to slow output once the plants reopen, a spokesman said in an email.

“This move will enable us to confirm the effectiveness of the measures taken to date and enhance our processes in order to sustain modified operations and activities over a longer period,” Rolls said. Measures including social-distancing are needed “to provide our employees with absolute confidence and reassurance for their safety.”

Rolls-Royce is taking a break from manufacturing after customer Airbus SE also paused production to check on measures to protect employees from Covid-19. Boeing Co. has gone a step further, winding down planemaking in the Seattle area for two weeks after a worker died of virus-related complications.

The Rolls-Royce spokesman said the shutdown was not due to supply or demand factors but in order to keep employees safe. The company’s main production sites are located in Derby, central England and the 7,500 factory workers impacted by the decision will continue to be paid.

The group’s defense facilities will continue operating after it was designated a key supplier by the U.K. military. Rolls-Royce engines power military aircraft, naval vessels and other vehicles, some of which are helping with the coronavirus relief effort, according to the statement.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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