March 16, 2012
By Jim Moore
Union workers celebrated news that Hawker Beechcraft has opted not to close one of its Wichita, Kan., factories as previously planned, a decision that will save 300 jobs according to local media.
The company employs about 4,700 workers in Wichita, and has been working to cut costs since the economy collapsed—and the business jet market with it—in 2008. A memo issued by a joint committee of company and union officials, provided to AOPA Online, stated that the fabrication plant once slated for a 2011 shut-down will play a key role as the company works to increase production efficiency, and reduce cost while maintaining quality.
“The dialogue has been open and honest, and is a continuation of the framework of trust and confidence developed during 2011 negotiations,” the memo states. “Assuming aircraft build rates remain at current levels, the overall volume of work performed in Plant I is expected to be maintained while this revised strategy is developed and implemented.”
Analysts have expressed concern over the company’s debt, and Hawker-Beechcraft hired Robert “Steve” Miller, a CEO known for turning the financial fortunes of struggling companies, in February amid rumors the company will seek bankruptcy protection.
Union leaders told the Wichita Eagle there was much celebration as news of the plant’s preservation spread. A message left with the union office March 16 was not immediately returned.
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
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