Cessna Will See More Layoffs In 2009

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AVwebBiz Wednesday reported that following a December announcement that Cessna would cut 500 workers, Cessna CEO Jack Pelton rang in the New Year with a Jan. 6 e-mail to employees that announced the possibility of still more layoffs. The number of jobs affected is yet to be determined. "As soon as we finalize our revised 2009 production plan, we will communicate what the implications are for our company," wrote Pelton. Wichita is already reeling from 800 jobs eliminated by Boeing and 490 removed by Hawker Beechcraft. Now, as Cessna seeks to find its balance with order cancellations, deferrals and their associated production cutbacks, more layoffs will be coming. The company delivered a record number of aircraft in 2008, but jet orders began to decline mid-year and plans for growth must now be reassessed. A spike in used aircraft on the market has had wide-ranging impact and "the domestic market remains very soft," according to Pelton, while "the international markets that were very strong a year ago are now quiet." Even shared aircraft service providers like NetJets have significantly altered their plans and NetJets specifically has backed off of an order for what Pelton called, "a significant number" of aircraft. Based on prior announcements, at least 150 employees volunteered for a layoff program through which Cessna offers a severance package.

Layoffs at Cessna are expected to be spread throughout the company, which recently employed about 12,000 people in Wichita and 450 in Bend, Ore., where Cessna 400 and 350 (previously Columbia) aircraft are built. Some 500 in Wichita have already been weaned from the employer, plus 165 in Bend.