January 9, 2009
By Alton K. Marsh
In a letter obtained by The Wichita Eagle, and publications in New York and Little Rock, Ark., Hawker Beechcraft Chairman and CEO Jim Schuster warns of another round of layoffs. As in a similar announcement by Cessna Aircraft Co. this week, details are not yet available.
AOPA contacted Hawker Beechcraft, and a spokesman said no comments were available. Here is the text of a copy of Schuster’s letter obtained by The Wichita Eagle:
“In my letters to you in October, I promised to keep you informed about the state of our business as we face one of the most challenging economic environments in the history of our company and our industry. No one could have predicted the rapid downturn in the global economy, nor its almost unimaginable magnitude.
“As we are all acutely aware, economic conditions have continued to deteriorate since my last letter. 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 we enter 2009, we see the economy continuing to erode and find ourselves facing a highly uncertain and unpredictable business climate. The bottom line is that the concerns I noted in October have become a reality and must be addressed immediately. 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.
“I would like to promise you that we’ll see no additional actions; however, at this point we see no reason to expect a quick worldwide economic recovery. Instead, we believe the best case scenario is that current instability will continue and in the worst case, conditions may erode further.
“I want to absolutely reassure everyone that HBC is an extremely healthy company with a solid future. 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. Once again, you have my personal commitment that I will promptly inform you of key business decisions that impact you and your families.”
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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