Hawker Beechcraft releases more details on layoffs

AP News
Posted: Oct 22, 2010 6:42 PM
Hawker Beechcraft releases more details on layoffs

Aircraft maker Hawker Beechcraft unveiled more details Friday on a series of layoffs announced earlier, disclosed a commitment by its top officials to reduce their own base pay by 10 percent and detailed other cost-cutting measures.

"These decisions and actions are intended to sustain and improve the company's financial strength and improve competitive capability during a very difficult time for the business aviation industry," CEO Bill Boisture told employees in a letter.

The Wichita-based company had said in late September that 350 employees would be laid off. On Friday, the company notified those 350 salaried workers they were no longer employed.

Hawker Beechcraft also released a timeline for May through August of next year for an additional 800 layoffs announced earlier this month in its contract offer. Those jobs involve back shop operations involved with the King Air plane, some electrical and upholstery work, logistics and other operations.

Work done by those employees will be transferred to third-party suppliers and the company's operations in Mexico.

The company said its new Hawker 200 light jet announced earlier this week will be assembled in Wichita, with its interior installation and paint handled at its Little Rock, Ark., facility.

Hawker Beechcraft also outlined other cost-cutting measures it has taken during the past two years. Its salaried, nonunion employees were credited with saving the company about $4.5 million in health care insurance costs and $5.7 million in matching 401(k) contributions. They also gave up annual merit raises that saved the company $15 million. Boisture said.

"In addition to personally taking part in the above cost-cutting measures, the management team of the company has shown its commitment to building this company for the future by investing $6 million of their own money in the company's stock," he wrote.

Boisture told workers that the senior leadership team joined him on Friday in "committing to build a more sustainable, profitable enterprise" by reducing their base salary by 10 percent. He noted that he voluntarily reduced his own contractual pay in 2009 by 10 percent.

The letter comes a week after the company's machinists union, representing some 2,600 workers, rejected a contract offer that would have reduced their base pay by 10 percent along with other concessions.

Hawker Beechcraft said its cost reductions provided resources to invest in training and product development.

"We are doing these things because we have a vision of a smaller, more agile company that delivers incredible quality, the first time _ faster," Boisture wrote. "These characteristics, when we achieve them, will sustain us in the global, competitive marketplace of tomorrow."