Economy Continues To Affect Planemakers With Order
We're only a
week into the New Year, and two major manufacturers of GA aircraft
are already scaling back production schedules and giving notice of
still more impending layoffs to their manufacturing workforces.
Hawker Beechcraft laid off almost 500
employees, and Cessna announced it would cut 500 workers in Wichita and another 165 in
Bend, OR. But a continuing downturn in the global
economy is spurring further cutbacks.
Hawker Beechcraft Chairman and CEO Jim Schuster sent a letter to
employees on January 8, outlining a sobering outlook for 2009 and
giving a heads-up of appropriate action that can be expected,
Wichita's KSNW-3 reported.
"The general aviation market has slowed; new orders have fallen
off considerably; many existing orders have been terminated and
used inventory has increased dramatically. Simply put, consumer
demand for aircraft and services has declined precipitously,"
"As a result, we are forced to substantially decrease our 2009
production levels and take the painful step of reducing our
workforce accordingly. We are in the process of finalizing our
plans and will notify affected employees as soon as possible.
"While this is a disappointing way to start 2009, I believe that
making difficult decisions now and sticking to the priorities that
have made our company successful will enable HBC to survive this
downturn and thrive in the long term."
Announced in a memo last week, Cessna Aircraft's CEO Jack Pelton
had similar news for his company's employees.
"As the global economic crisis has continued to deepen, we have
to further reduce the 2009 production schedule, and this will
regrettably result in additional workforce reductions," Pelton
Pelton reflected on last year's strong beginning and subsequent
downturn. "The first half was full of promise for the future. The
second half of the year ended by not only putting on the brakes,
but also backing up a bit," he said. "The domestic market remains
very soft, and the international markets that were very strong a
year ago are now quiet."
Cessna spokesman Bob Stangarone said it had not yet been
determined how many employees would be affected by the upcoming
layoff, but sources told the Wichita Eagle that the number is
expected to reach 1,000 or more.