...And Workers Bear The Load
Of course, the soft market for bizjets gets most of the blame for this latest consolidation. With order books gathering dust, industry analysts say the only way for the companies to survive is to trim their operations. "They're desperate to cut costs and rightly so," consultant Richard Aboulafia told The Wichita Eagle. Employees at the Wichita plant did their share to help the company. The Machinists Union allowed its contract to be renegotiated and workers voted to freeze wages, delay pension increases and pay more of their own health-care costs. Agreeing to the concessions may have saved the plant. "If they hadn't, it could have gone the other way," said Bombardier spokesman Dave Franson. The worst may not be over for the bizjet market, according to Bombardier's chief competitor. Cessna officials released the company's financial details and market projections for the coming year, and the world's largest bizjet maker is predicting 2004 to be even worse than 2003. The company actually hit its target of 195 jets for this year but it expects to make at least 20 fewer jets next year. Things start looking better in 2005 when it can start delivering its backlog of about 200 Mustang mini-jets. The Citation Sovereign will also become available in 2005.