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Boeing Cancels Contract With Evergreen Aviation

Evergreen says it’s shocked to lose contract to fly freighters that transport components for Boeing’s new 787 jetliners to its assembly plant in Everett, Wash.

MCMINNVILLE, Ore. (AP) -- Officials at Evergreen International Aviation Inc. are shocked and disappointed to lose a contract to operate Boeing Co.'s "Dreamlifter" super freighters, the chairman of the McMinnville-based aviation services company said.

The converted 747 jumbo jets fly components for Boeing's new 787 jetliners to its assembly plant in Everett, Wash. Chicago-based Boeing announced last week that when its five-year agreement with Evergreen ends in September, it will shift the contract to Evergreen archrival Atlas Air.

Evergreen Chairman Tim Wahlberg said the company was given no reason, no advance notice and no opportunity to submit a rival bid.

"It really puts us in a bad position," Wahlberg said. "So to say we're disappointed, absolutely.

"And we're really disappointed that Boeing hasn't come clean on what the deal is. It kind of hurts our reputation."

Boeing has four Dreamlifters, 747s that have been modified by greatly expanding the fuselage to hold large subassemblies of 787s made by other companies.

Evergreen was elated when it submitted the winning bid to operate the planes in 2005. Wahlberg said the work was expected to run about 35 years, with the contract subject to renewal every five years. He said Evergreen had been given no reason to think a contract review would be anything but routine.

Boeing regularly praised the company for its work, Wahlberg said, with no reports of problems. "We were on time all the time. We ran a perfect operation," he said, and will continue to do so.

Boeing spokesman Dean Tougas said Sunday that the company does not comment on how it analyzes agreements with outside companies and makes business decisions.

In November, Boeing notified Evergreen that it was evaluating the operation as standard procedure, Wahlberg said.

"Then, about a month ago, they said were looking more seriously at how to reduce cost, how to get best value, and they were possibly looking at some sales, or going to a third party, or possibly using Evergreen," Wahlberg said. "So then we're starting to get a little shaky.

He said, "Last week, we got a call from this gentleman from Boeing," terminating the deal. "That leads us to believe the award was totally unrelated to the operation that we're running.

"We don't know the facts. We thought would be nice if Boeing would have explained the facts to us. I don't know what to say."

Wahlberg said losing the contract puts a number of jobs at risk. He said 75 pilots, mechanics and ground handlers are assigned to the Boeing program and about 200 more offer some level of support.

Wahlberg said it's too early to say whether Evergreen can find new work for those employees.

"The job continues until the end of September, so we don't have to figure that out today," he said. "I hope we can further employ these people doing something else."

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