Hawker Beechcraft Chairman and CEO Jim Schuster has notified employees that the company will reduce its workforce by 2,300 employees before the end of the year. The action follows similar layoff announcements throughout the aircraft manufacturing industry.
Schuster said he can’t commit to his employees that this is the final action, given the “extreme volatility in the marketplace.” As is the case with other manufacturers, Schuster said the workforce reduction is because of slow orders, particularly from high-volume segments such as the fractional ownership market.
“The government stimulus package has failed to sufficiently loosen credit markets, which are absolutely vital to the success of HBC and our industry,” Schuster wrote. The company previously laid off 490 workers in November 2008.
“We are undoubtedly facing one of the most severe tests in our company’s history,” Schuster wrote, adding that he believes Hawker Beechcraft has “…the right brands, the right products, and the right people” to see the company through the economic downturn.
Schuster also said that media reports and statements by politicians have cast general aviation as a wasteful extravagance rather than a critical business tool and a source of jobs. He cited an opinion article published by the New York Times and written by William Garvey, editor in chief of Business and Commercial Aviation, that states one million Americans are employed by the business aircraft industry. Garvey asserted that the industry dominates the world market, with more than half of all U.S. production going overseas, and provides $150 billion annually to the U.S. economy.