October 7, 2010
By Alton K. Marsh
Some sort of deal—no one is saying exactly what sort—has been reached among the governor of Kansas, Hawker Beechcraft, and its union leaders to keep Hawker Beechcraft from moving most its people and facilities to Louisiana. The union must still vote on the deal.
Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson said the state’s offer “…could, and I emphasize could,” keep the “vast majority” of the company’s 6,000 Wichita-based workers in Wichita. The deal involves direct incentives to the company, and worker training funds, according to KAKE TV and The Associated Press. Parkinson emphasized it must be a “long-term” solution guaranteeing jobs will stay in Wichita for “…a long period of time.” A planned 45-minute meeting with the governor stretched to three hours, KAKE TV reported.
The union will vote on the package once its details have been decided in bargaining talks between Hawker Beechcraft management and the union.
The company has been in Wichita since it was founded in 1932. The governor’s remarks left open the possibility that many of the present jobs might be moved out of the state or out of the country. Hawker Beechcraft officials reportedly have narrowed the search for some of its work to go to Louisiana and Mississippi, with Louisiana being in the lead, the Wichita Eagle has reported. A sweetening of the deal in recent weeks led to reports that half or more than half of all Hawker Beechcraft jobs might go to Louisiana, specifically Baton Rouge.
In the meantime, Wichita City Council members held off approval for $160 million in improvement to the city’s airport terminal building because of economic uncertainty including the outcome of the Hawker Beechcraft negotiations.
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