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Hawker to shut centers, cut jobs

By Jack Weatherly

This article was published November 8, 2012 at 12:28 a.m.

— 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

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Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 total comments

Jackabbott says... November 8, 2012 at 7:54 a.m.

Sad to hear. But this is another body blow to Arkansas. Whirlpool closed and we lost 5,000 jobs to Mexico. Things are not getting any better. Honda has built and is building a similar plant like this in North Carolina. So this is a failure on the leadership of Arkansas, including the Governor and the whole Congressional delegation specifically the goofball that represents Pulaski County. Like Boozeman in NW Arkansas, he talks a big geme but when something goes really bad in their district they blame it on Obama and Bush and do not put forward any plans to really help Arkansas. Where is the NAACP, ACLU, NRA, Bishop Taylor, Koch Brothers- all out to aid illegals or expanding Medicad? Well, here are about 6,000 more to expand it.

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LETSBEREALISTIC says... November 8, 2012 at 8:17 a.m.

Well, one more victim of the Obama liberal left agenda, kill real jobs but promote welfare and nationalization of industry! I hope you fools that voted for socialism will at least go see 2016: Obama's America now and leard something about your false idol and the liberal left.

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ArkansasObserver says... November 8, 2012 at 8:24 a.m.

I fear this closing will be the trend for Arkansas, and for business in general over the next decade as the anti-business appointees in Washington consolidate their gains.

"Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport / Adams Field".
What a joke!

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turfclan says... November 8, 2012 at 8:45 a.m.

This is not as bad as it seems. Economics 101: supply and demand. The corporate jet market is way over supplied and this facility's closing was bound to happen regardless of who was in political office. Look at the positive, many companies come out of bankruptcy better than before and this modern facility, on the grounds of a middle sized airport, will rebound. Maybe not a jet servicing facitity, but possibly an UPS small sorting hub, a larger jet service area, etc.

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CordisK says... November 8, 2012 at 8:47 a.m.

If you start a business and are successful, it is entirely due to your own perseverance and savvy. If your business fails, it's the President's fault.

Right guys?

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Populist says... November 8, 2012 at 9:15 a.m.

You can be liberal or progressive and economically healthy. It's called education. The liberals must stop wanting handouts and start wanting better schools. The conservatives need to stop wanting low taxes and start wanting better schools. In a more technologically advanced society, people need to be better educated. The jobs are going to the kids from the states where the schools are better. If the Democrats and Republicans can't get their acts together, there is a whole new party ready to emerge. Angus King, the Independent Senator-elect from Maine, who crushed the Democratic and Republican candidates both, is a pragmatic, pro-education, pro-environment businessman. In Maryland, the Democrats are winning because they are pro-education. If the Democrats in Arkansas want to come back to power, they need to make education their issue and stop trying to protect the teachers unions and government workers. Arkansas needs better schools if it ever wants a better economy. When King was the governor of Maine, he made sure that every middle school student received a computer. I suspect if every middle school child in Little Rock received a computer, crime and drug abuse would plummet.

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BillSmithFreeSpiritMan says... November 8, 2012 at 10:54 a.m.

LETSBEREALISTIC....This guy thinks like Romney/Ryan and look what happened to them. He is a birther, a conspiracy theorist, probably get daily emails from World Net Daily, and thinks the world is only 6000 years old. How realistic is that?

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HotSpringsLawyer says... November 8, 2012 at 11:43 a.m.

I'm afraid that if every middle school student in Arkansas received a computer many of them (or their parents) would sell them to buy guns or drugs and the violence and drug use would increase rather than decrease.

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HawgFan says... November 8, 2012 at 12:59 p.m.

turfclan... What part of 'more than 100 people will lose their jobs' is not as bad as it seems????

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