You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Boeing to close Macon plant picked last year for expansion

Aviation giant Boeing announced last year plans to reboot a Macon plant from a military facility into a commercial aerospace factory making fuselage pieces for a new cargo variant of the company’s iconic 747 jumbo jet.

State and city leaders hailed the move, which they said would preserve jobs at the facility and create up to 200 more positions over the next few years. But Boeing has reversed course, saying in a statement this week it will close the facility at Middle Georgia Regional Airport once its defense mission is complete at the end of the year.

Boeing placed the blame on a softening market for large cargo jets amid a slump in the cargo hauling market.

The announcement is a blow to Middle Georgia, which put high hopes on what was said to be Boeing’s first-ever conversion of a factory from a defense plant to a commercial aviation facility. The plant employs about 120 people.

The Macon plant makes components for the A-10 close air support fighter-bomber and the CH-47 helicopter. It previously was involved in the C-17 Globemaster freighter program.

The plan to convert the facility, announced in September 2015, called for work to begin on components for 747-8 fuselage panels to begin in 2018.

Boeing said it has halted plans to increase production of the 747-8 aircraft, from half a plane a month to one plane per month in 2019.

“(Boeing Commercial Airplanes) has determined that it does not have a business case at this time for taking on the Macon site,” the company said in a statement.

“Following the completion of defense work in December, site operations will conclude with no planned restart,” the statement said. “We are continuing to assist employees who are interested in employment opportunities at other Boeing locations. As well, we continue to work with state agencies to identify employment opportunities outside of Boeing for employees.”

At the time of last September’s announced change in mission, the state’s economic development chief, Chris Carr, said the conversion plan “is the result of progressive and persistent teamwork between the public and private sector.”

But it appears that teamwork couldn’t overcome global economic pressures.

“Naturally, we are disappointed that market demand will not support Boeing moving forward with these commercial activities,” the state’s Deputy Commissioner of Global Commerce, Tom Croteau, said in a statement. “No state funds were expended for the project. We remain optimistic, and we will be here to support Boeing as they continue to explore new opportunities.”

The site opened in 1980, according to Boeing, and originally made cargo deck equipment for the 747.

“For more than 35 years Boeing has been proud to be a member of the Macon-Bibb community,” Boeing said in a statement. “During that time, the men and women on the Boeing Macon team have performed with unmatched professionalism and delivered products with outstanding quality to those who serve our nation around the globe.”

Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority Chairman Cliffard Whitby said his organization owns the facility and will retain control of it once Boeing exits. He said the plan is to market it to other potential industrial users, and that the recruitment of future firms might be aided by plans to expand runways at the airport if voters approve a special purpose local option sales tax vote in November.

“Our focus today and for the next several months will be to assist the displaced workforce and their families,” he said. “That’s our top priority right now.’

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Business

Zima is ready to make a comeback
Zima is ready to make a comeback

For those waxing nostalgic for the 1990s, a clear blast from the past may reappear soon at bars and on store shelves. MillerCoors will bring back Zima this year, according to a Crain’s report. The clear malt beverage debuted in 1993 and was a popular fixture of the nightclub scene, but sales declined over time, and the company discontinued Zima...
Kempner: Georgia Realtor loses suit over Ellen DeGeneres’ joke
Kempner: Georgia Realtor loses suit over Ellen DeGeneres’ joke

A federal judge has dismissed a Georgia Realtor’s defamation lawsuit against the producer of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” because, well, the TV comedian was telling a joke. Warner Robins real estate agent Titi Pierce sued Warner Bros Entertainment — but not DeGeneres — over a nationally televised bit last year in which DeGeneres...
The real reason flight crews don’t want you making calls on flights
The real reason flight crews don’t want you making calls on flights

Thousands of comments submitted to the federal government on whether voice calls should be allowed on flights make it clear: Many people worry it would be a major, unavoidable annoyance. But flight crews say there’s an even bigger potential problem. That became more evident when U.S. Department of Transportation took comments on the issue...
Southwest in Atlanta: fewer flights, more local fliers
Southwest in Atlanta: fewer flights, more local fliers

Southwest Airlines’ move to buy out AirTran Airways and enter the Atlanta market sparked hopes among some that the Dallas-based discounter would give hometown giant Delta Air Lines a bigger run for its money. The reality is that, five years after launching flights, Southwest has significantly fewer flights from Atlanta than AirTran did &mdash...
Britax recalls 676K strollers after injury reports
Britax recalls 676K strollers after injury reports

Britax Child Safety Inc. has issued a recall of certain models of its strollers, after the company discovered a defect that can create a fall hazard.  A damaged receiver mount can cause the car seat to disengage from the stroller, and lead to a fall, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Both the Britax B-Agile and BOB Motion...
More Stories