Aero Vodochody Cutting Workers

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While Ibis Aerospace continues developing the Spirit turboprop, its parent company has moved into a major cost-cutting program. Despite profits, Aero Vodochody can't seem to lift itself out of debt. The Czechoslovakian aircraft manufacturer, which is hanging on the brink of a financial crisis, announced it would trim the company's staff by year's end. The company’s board of directors decided to cut about 200 administrative and production employees from a total workforce of 2,124.The manufacturer, which is 35 percent owned by Boeing, specializes in manufacturing a line of military aircraft, most notably the L-159 subsonic jet trainer, but in the business aviation world, co-sponsors the Ibis Aircraft project. This year, orders have dried up. Aero will deliver the last of 72 L-159s ordered by the Defense Ministry for the Czech air force in 2007. Marketing head Viktor Kucera has been involved in negotiations dubbed "promising," but thus far no major international orders have been forthcoming. The company is searching for a compromise between maintaining production capabilities and keeping costs low. While Boeing, which bought its stake in Aero Vodochody for approximately $30 million in 1998, would like to cut all redundant workers, Aero President Antonin Jakubse is more conservative, favoring keeping part of the highly skilled workforce to enable a relaunch of L-159 production once orders start coming in again. He said the civilian sector holds some promise, and Aero produces aircraft parts for export.