Latest Round Of Aviation Layoffs Not Likely To Be Last

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The biggest question on the minds of Wichitans is whether the latest round of layoffs will be the last. The answer is, most likely not.

In Wichita's aircraft industry, more jobs are going out the door than coming in.

So far, Boeing has announced job cuts of 800, Cessna is reducing its workforce by 4,600; 4,000 of those in Wichita and Hawker Beechcraft will lay off a total of 2,800. That number includes the 2,300 getting notice this week and the nearly 500 layoffs from November.

"We are undoubtedly facing one of the most severe tests in our company's history," said Hawker Chief Executive Jim Schuster. "While I wish I could commit to you that this will be our final action, I cannot do so at this time given the extreme volatility in the marketplace."

Recent layoffs have been particularly severe due to business jet orders falling off the table. One source says Net Jets Fractional Ownership Company has canceled or deferred 75 Hawker Beechcraft orders.

Another source indicates that Net Jets, which originally planned on taking 44 Cessna jets this year, won't be taking delivery of another until April 2010.

Many have commented on the situation the aviation industry is in, saying that union members are at fault due to the month-long strike at Hawker Beechcraft last summer.

Experts disagree. They pin the blame on the economy, not work stoppage.

So far, neither Spirit nor Bombardier have made any layoff announcements.

Spirit AeroSystems is planning a conference call tomorrow for their year-end financial report, which may give clues about production plans for the rest of the year.

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