Boeing Will Close Wichita Plant

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Boeing will close its facility in Wichita, Kans., by the end of next year, the company said on Wednesday, putting 2,160 employees out of work. "The decision to close our Wichita facility was difficult," said Mark Bass, a Boeing spokesman. "We recognize how this will affect the lives of the highly skilled men and women who work here." Over the last five years, programs in Wichita have come to a close or are winding down, the company said, and now defense budgets are declining and there is no new business on the horizon to justify future investments. The plant is the base for the company's B-52 and 767 international tanker programs and also provides support for flight mission planning and logistics.

Job cuts will start in the third quarter of this year, Bass said. Maintenance, support and engineering work will be transferred to facilities in Texas, Oklahoma and Washington. Boeing has had a plant in Wichita since 1929, when it bought the Stearman Aircraft Co., according to The Associated Press. Employment peaked at more than 40,000 during World War II, when the production line built four bombers per day. In 2005, the company began to move its commercial operations to other states, and the Wichita plant has faced multiple rounds of layoffs. Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer said the city will recover. "This is not the first time we have had something of this magnitude," he told the AP. "We have had other challenges and we have always managed to work through it and been able to survive."