This week, Cessna Aircraft and Bombardier Aerospace separately announced they are cutting business jet production rates this year, in addition to laying off more people.
Jack J. Pelton
Cessna Aircraft, which announced layoffs totaling roughly 13 percent of its workforce late last year, on Friday sent an e-mail to employees outlining a delay in development of the large-cabin Citation Columbus, as well as further reductions in force, this time in the form of furloughs.
Cessna Aircraft yesterday kicked off an initiative to debunk myths about business aircraft and outline how these machines make companies more competitive. “The reality of business aviation is a far cry from the misconception of CEOs flying in large, luxurious airplanes,” said Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton.
The healthy backlogs that Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft thought they had six months ago apparently haven’t been able to weather the worldwide recession, with both manufacturers separately announcing more layoffs this week. Wichita TV station KAKE is reporting that up to 3,000 employees at the two aircraft makers soon could be on the street.
Cessna took the size of its European Citation fleet to 1,000 aircraft on December 16 when it delivered a Citation XLS to Turkish charter operator Bonair.
When Cessna announced the formal launch of the Columbus large-cabin jet program earlier this year, chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton said that it was a good time to build a new airplane despite the economic situation, which has worsened since that announcement.
Acknowledging the reality of today’s economic situation, aircraft manufacturers Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft have announced workforce reductions and revised delivery schedules. Avionics maker Rockwell Collins has also announced layoffs.
“Due to continued softening in the global economic environment,” Cessna Aircraft is revising the Citation jet production schedule for next year, according to a statement from Textron, Cessna’s parent company. Textron had previously expected Cessna to ship 535 Citations next year, but now predicts that jet deliveries in 2009 will be only “up slightly” from the 475 planned this year.
In spite of the sagging U.S. economy, global credit crisis and record oil prices, business jet maker Cessna said sales activity remains strong as the cumulative effects of the weak dollar and stepped-up demand from international buyers help to offset such concerns.
Cessna unveiled a mockup of a large-cabin intercontinental jet at the 2006 NBAA Convention, and based on strong market acceptance announced on January 24 the formal launch of the biggest Citation yet. Yesterday, Cessna revealed many more details about the newly named Citation Columbus, and AIN asked Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton for his insights on the new jet.