Spirit AeroSystems to add 1,400 new jobs

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Spirit CEO Tom Gentile announcing the planemaker plans to add another 1,400 new jobs. Spirit CEO Tom Gentile announcing the planemaker plans to add another 1,400 new jobs.
Hundreds of workers gathered around to hear the announcement on one of Spirit's factory floors. Hundreds of workers gathered around to hear the announcement on one of Spirit's factory floors.
There were a lot of smiles as employees enjoyed an unusual break from work and awaited the jobs announcement Wednesday morning. There were a lot of smiles as employees enjoyed an unusual break from work and awaited the jobs announcement Wednesday morning.
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Spirit AeroSystems says it has already exceeded last year's promise to hire 1,000 people in two years, and the planemaker plans to add another 1,400 jobs.

Spirit President and CEO Tom Gentile made the announcement Wednesday morning. He said most of the new positions will be hourly, skilled labor jobs. Many come directly from the WSU Tech programs. 

Jobs at Spirit here

Spirit made the announcement before a grinning crowd of workers Wednesday morning, not to mention dozens of gathered politicians, educators and others who’ve been part of what Spirit calls its public-private partnership.

Workers at Spirit say this growth is good for them and lawmakers say it’s good for the City of Wichita and the State of Kansas.

“We've got a lot more business going through here,” said Keith Stengel who’s worked at first Boeing then Spirit for more than 30 years.  “We've got a lot more job security.”

Enough work to keep him busy until he retires, he adds.  He’s seen the ups and downs of the aviation industry.  Wednesday morning was a big up.

“We are going to hire an additional 1,400 employees over and above the 1000 we announced last year,” Spirit CEO Tom Gentile announced to applause.

Gentile says Spirit is growing so fast they need even more help.

“It took us 52 years to build 10,000 aircraft.  At the current rates of production, it will take us only 15 years to build the next 10,000,” he said.

“I appreciate you making this an annual event, looking forward to next year,” joked Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell.

He also estimates each new job at Spirit will lead to three more new jobs in the city.

“It's more housing, it's retail workers, it's hospitality workers, it's their supply chain,” Longwell explained.

Wichita isn’t alone in expecting good things from this announcement.  State leaders say they expect to see a ripple effect move well beyond South Central Kansas.

“This impacts the entire state,” said Gov. Jeff Colyer.  “Something that's part of the longevity, keeping our kids here in Kansas.  This spins out into engineering jobs, manufacturing jobs, jobs across the state and it improves wages across the state.”

In the moment, workers smiled, at the very least happy to know more help is on the way.

“That's the speed we're going at.  We have found better ways of doing things than we did before and we just keep on going faster,” Stengel said.

Due to increased demand internationally as more countries develop their air travel options, Spirit says it currently has an eight year backlog of orders. 

The company says it’s working faster than it ever has before.  Hopes are high they’ll continue to see this level of growth for some time to come.

“It's supporting itself.  It's evolving out of necessity because of the number of planes he has on order,” said Sen. Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican.

“Assuming we don't have a catastrophe on the national or international level, I could see us growing for the next 10 years because the demand for aircraft is so untapped,” said Rep. Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat.

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