Hawker Beechcraft to Lay Off 170 in Little Rock

by Lance Turner  on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012 10:54 am  

Hawker Beechcraft Wichita, Kan., plans to lay off 170 of its 450 workers in Little Rock, according to a letter to employees delivered Thursday.

Hawker Beechcraft plans to lay off 170 of its 450 workers in Little Rock, according to a letter to employees delivered Thursday.

The Wichita, Kan.-based company, which finishes out its line of private jets at Adams Field, filed for bankruptcy protection in May.

In the letter, available in full below, CEO Steve Miller and Chairman Bill Boisture said cuts will affect employees "across multiple levels and functions, hourly and non-hourly."

"Over the last several months, we have worked to appropriately size our business, primarily in Wichita. Today, we are faced with additional challenging decisions that involve further resizing our work force," the letter stated.

"This latest round will impact approximately 170 employees across multiple levels and functions, hourly and non-hourly, throughout our Little Rock facilities."

The letter said affected employees are receiving a 60-day Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification. Hawker Beechcraft would not comment on the layoffs.

Ripple Effect

Gov. Mike Beebe said the news was unfortunate but noted the plant would remain open.

"I'm advised that it's a result of a slowdown in the industry," Beebe said, according to The Associated Press. "As you might imagine, our private aircraft industry suffered significantly throughout the course of the recession as well as high-end industries that tend to suffer even more. The good news is they're not shutting down; they're keeping some workforce."

Jay Chesshir, president and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, said Hawker was "extremely important" to central Arkansas in terms of jobs, economic impact and the region's ability to attract other aviation companies.

He said it's important for local economic leaders to do what they can to help workers who have lost their jobs and find ways to keep them in the area.

"These skills aren't just laying around everywhere, which is why it's important to keep those skills here," he said.

Hawker is an important player in Arkansas' aerospace industry. It is the state's third-largest aerospace firm, according to Arkansas Business' 2012 list (PDF). Products in aerospace are the state's second-largest value-added export, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.



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