About 500 production employees at Cirrus Design will be furloughed for about a month each as the company cuts production to clear out built up inventory. Bill King, Cirrus’s VP of Business Administration told AVweb in a telephone interview staff were told of the move on Tuesday. Only production employees are affected and not all them will be off at the same time. Those at the beginning of the build cycle will be off first and will return first on Jan. 5. As the airplanes on the floor progress through completion, those farther down the line will be furloughed as they complete their part of the process. Last to be furloughed will be the painters. Each worker will be off for about 30 days. “We don’t want to add to the bad economic news but we just think this is the prudent thing to do so we can hit 2009 hard,” he said. King said the company is retaining all the workers and will be topping up their unemployment insurance and paying medical and other benefits during the shutdown. King said the company is strong and its financial backers, Arcapita, are solidly behind Cirrus. “We’re very well positioned and the truth is that if we weren’t well positioned we wouldn’t be able to pay these benefits,” he said.
Cirrus has trimmed its workforce twice in the last three months as sales have slowed. Company President Brent Wouters said the company is confident sales will rebound. “We are working diligently – and making good progress – on rationalizing inventory levels, re-tooling the production line for greater product flexibility, and introducing new products – such as the new SR20 with Perspective, new options and features to stimulate demand,” he said. ” Even so, we must make the sometimes difficult tactical decisions to match our overall production to the realities of the current market place.” The Vision SJ50 program is unaffected by layoffs and sales, customer service and other non-production departments will remain at work.