Get extra lift from AOPA. Start your free membership trial today! Click here

Hawker Beechcraft union warns of job loss

Hawker Beechcraft’s union has posted a letter warning of a bleak future based on a mid-July meeting with company leaders. Company officials have not commented on the union letter.

“The picture we are getting is of a Hawker Beechcraft that will shrink almost immediately by 75 per cent or more within two years, without a guarantee of even the last few jobs staying,” the statement said. It was posted by Steve Rooney, president and directing business representative of District Lodge 70 in Wichita, Kan. The statement was written following a July 14 meeting between union officials and corporate managers. The letter referred to past issues in which the company sent work to Mexico to make wire harnesses.

On July 20 Hawker Beechcraft employees were sent a letter confirming that several locations are under consideration for "parts of the business." You can read it here. The Wichita Eagle has reported the two states still under consideration for a new plant are Lousiana and Mississippi.

On July 23 Hawker Beechcraft Human Resources Vice President Rich Jiwanlal said the claim made in "speculation by some news sources" of cutbacks of "50-75 percent" of the workforce are "…simply not true." A claim of 75 percent in worker cutbacks was made by the union in a letter posted to the Internet. Jiwanlal did not offer additional information.

The union praised Spirit AeroSystems, another Wichita firm represented by the union, for committing to keep work in Wichita for the next decade.

The union has asked Hawker Beechcraft for details of coming plans. “Today we presented HBC with an information request, so we can understand the facts, and make intelligent discussions for keeping the work here,” the statement said.

The letter recalled when the company wanted to send wire harness work to Mexico, but local workers suggested ways to save costs and improve productivity. It accuses Hawker Beechcraft officials of agreeing to keep the work in Wichita, but then, “…they went back on their word and moved the work anyway.”

“We cannot be burned in such a way again, Brothers and Sisters,” Rooney wrote.

Should Hawker Beechcraft owners part it out?

An analyst for Zenith Jet who wrote a report suggesting Hawker Beechcraft be parted out says his report was taken out of context. George Tsopeis, a company vice president, said his comments were quickly adopted by two warring camps, one wanting to keep the company together and one hoping to break it up.

Unaware of the current union talks with Hawker Beechcraft management, Tsopeis addressed what he sees as the central problem. “Hawker Beechcraft faces serious challenges from a business aviation standpoint,” Tsopeis said in a telephone interview.

“It is very elementary math,” he said. He had just released a mid-year forecast still showing a “very, very soft market” for business jets just prior to his writing the report for the Gerson Lehrman Group suggesting the present owner, Onyx, could benefit from a greater upside if it parted-out the company.

Asked for industry reaction to his report, Tsopeis said it encompasses a wide range, “…from affirmation to, ‘You gotta be crazy.’” He said his article was written from a “devil’s advocate” perspective and was not based on any rumor or insider information.

Alton Marsh
Alton K. Marsh
Freelance journalist
Alton K. Marsh is a former senior editor of AOPA Pilot and is now a freelance journalist specializing in aviation topics.

Related Articles