LITTLE ROCK Hawker Beechcraft told employees in a letter Wednesday that the bankrupt company is eliminating positions at facilities in Little Rock and other locations where its business jets are finished to customer specification and planes are serviced.
The Little Rock job cuts will probably total more than 100 and the service center will close. The company declined to provide additional details.
The reduction comes on the heels of 170 terminations announced on Aug. 2 at the Little Rock completions center, which left the facility with approximately 280 workers. That number also hasn’t been confirmed by the company.
Hawker Beechcraft said Wednesday that in addition to Little Rock, it would close its aircraft-service facilities at Mesa, Ariz., and San Antonio. A total of 240 workers would be affected at the three service locations, and that number doesn’t include an unspecified number of job losses at the Little Rock jet completion center.
A spokesman said the company had no comment beyond the letter.
The Wichita, Kan.-based company has said it intends to restructure itself under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code by the end of the year and shed its business jets division while retaining its propeller-driven models.
Talks with Superior Aviation Beijing Co., which had offered $1.79 billion for the entire company, were announced in July but recently were abandoned. Hawker said Oct. 18 that it would liquidate its jet business if necessary.
Richard Aboulafia, an analyst for the Teal Group in Alexandria, Va., said at the time that he was doubtful Hawker would find a buyer for its business-jet lines, adding that they involved too much risk and not enough reward.
Brian Foley of Brian Foley Associates, Sparta N.J., said Wednesday in an e-mail: “This would suggest Hawker Beechcraft is indeed leaving the jet business quickly and in a big way.”
Yet, he added that “in a best-case scenario, now that the company is no longer bound by the ‘all or nothing’ sale to Superior Aviation it has more flexibility to sell assets in pieces, such as the [Little Rock] completions and [ services] facility, to other parties. Other aircraft manufacturers or maintenance organizations may have a need to expand their completions capacity or service center network and Little Rock has the facilities and a trained, local workforce to make it a turn-key operation.”
Both of the Hawker operations are at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field.
Chief Executive Off icer Steve Miller and Chairman Bill Boisture said in the Wednesday letter: “We will be implementing a reduction in force that will affect approximately 170 employees at Hawker Beechcraft Corporation in Wichita, Kan., and Little Rock. More than half of those affected are employees at our Little Rock Completions Center, where the company is finishing its remaining Hawker aircraft for customer delivery.”
“Each employee will be notified of whether he/she will be required to work during all or some of the 60-day Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notice period,” the letter said.
Little Rock employees at the completions center will be notified on Monday if they are affected, and those at the services center some time next week, the letter said.
Privately held Hawker, which filed for bankruptcy protection in May, is owned by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Onex Corp.
Carrying a heavy debt load, it has registered net losses over the past two years of more than $900 million because of declining sales.
Business, Pages 33 on 11/08/2012
Print Headline: Hawker to shut centers, cut jobs