By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
Piper Aircraft this week announced it will cut 60 manufacturing jobs, and Hawker Beechcraft has cut 350 positions, as the hoped-for turnaround in orders proves elusive. Workers at Piper's plant in Vero Beach, Fla., were told on Monday their jobs are disappearing and they would get one to two weeks of severance pay, TCPalm reported. Geoffrey Berger, who has been serving as Piper's interim CEO since July, told the workers in a letter on Monday that "Piper remains challenged by overall market weakness." Early this year the company forecast about 200 aircraft sales for 2010, but by this summer "it had become apparent that we needed to temper our expectations considerably," Berger said. The forecast now is down to 158 units. No jobs were cut on the PiperJet program, where 140 workers have been hired over the last year.
In a letter to workers at Hawker (PDF), CEO Bill Boisture blamed the "worldwide recession" for the downturn in orders. "While there are pockets of growth in the global economy, the market for new production aircraft has stagnated at a very low level," Boisture wrote. "Readily available, high quality, used aircraft and the lack of financing have combined to depress the prices on private and business aircraft." No upturn is in sight for at least the next year or maybe longer, he said. The latest round of 350 cuts will come from salaried workers, and will be completed by the end of October. Just last week, Cessna also announced it will cut 700 jobs.