Have We Hit Bottom Yet?

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Maybe Next Year, Hopes New Piper...

New Piper and Raytheon joined the chorus of GA companies repeating the mantra of missed projections and staff layoffs this week. At New Piper, they've already cut pre-9/11 staff levels by a third to about 1,000 employees and no further cuts are anticipated ... except in revenue. New Piper had hoped to build 331 airplanes this year but will only make 300. Of those, only 213 are sold. Last year, the company sold 444 planes. "We have absolutely been hit hard," company spokesman Mark Miller told The Palm Beach Post. "This continued decline in the economy ... has been unremitting." Miller said the earliest he expects improvement is the second quarter of next year and the lean, efficient company should be well-positioned to exploit it. "Our whole focus is to be prepared once the economy rebounds." Raytheon doesn't appear to share that optimism. It's shedding another 220 workers in Wichita and projecting even fewer aircraft deliveries next year. It's expecting to build 339 planes in 2003, down from 356 this year. Hardest hit is its commuter turboprop, the Beech 1900D. Only one will be built next year compared to 12 this year.

...Boeing Continues Slide

This is where we'd prefer to say it's not all doom and gloom. Unfortunately, it is -- this week, anyway. Boeing's latest layoff plans include about half of the 1,400 workers who put together 767s in the Seattle area. The announcements are expected in December and are on top of the 30,000 layoffs already planned by Boeing. "I think it's clear that we are going to have fewer people around here next year than we have this year," Martin said. "This industry is in terrible condition." And when you have fewer people on the shop floor, you need fewer people in administration. Up to 1,500 office workers will be axed as orders dwindle. There are still, however, 168,400 people working for Boeing. The company is getting a little help from the government to cope with a new threat. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Samuel Bodman said he might complain to the World Trade Organization that European countries are illegally subsidizing the $11 billion in development costs of the super jumbo Airbus A380. Airbus already has 97 orders for the 555-seat jet, which will break Boeing's monopoly in that market.