March 7, 2014 10:26 AM EST

Boeing announced Thursday that nonunion employees will have to transition from the company’s current pension plan to a new 401(k) plan, in an effort to reduce costs at the world’s largest aerospace company.

The company, a leading manufacturer of commercial and defense jetliners, said all benefits earned in the current plan will be paid to employees in retirement until the switch is made in 2016. Since 2009, Boeing’s hires from 28 unions and all new nonunion employees have been moved to defined contribution plans rather than the more generous pensions of yore. The company said the change would affect about 68,000 employees, out of 169,071 total.

Boeing said that the move would help the company “better predict and manage financial risks, while still providing its employees a market-leading retirement benefit.”

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