Cessna Aircraft Cutting Another 2,000 Jobs

Company plans to lay off another 2,000 workers as the slumping worldwide economy is forcing more customers to cancel or delay orders for new aircraft.

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- Cessna Aircraft Co. said Thursday it plans to lay off another 2,000 workers, or about 13 percent of its work force, as the slumping worldwide economy is forcing more customers to cancel or delay orders for new aircraft.

The manufacturer earlier had announced 2,600 job cuts. The combined 4,600 layoffs are expected to be completed by the end of March, with the company's headquarters in Wichita losing about a third of its work force. Cessna employs about 15,000 people worldwide.

In an e-mail to employees, Cessna Chairman Jack Pelton called the cuts "profound" but said they were necessary as a domestic recession and slowing economies overseas are creating business conditions "unprecedented in recent memory."

"It's extremely difficult to forecast this year's delivery number because, ultimately, it will depend on how the economy and other factors affect customer orders and cancellations," Pelton wrote. "As a result it will be necessary for us to further reduce our production rates based on our current outlook for a weakening order book. That, unfortunately, means we will also have to further reduce our work force."

Pelton said that, as part of the cuts, Cessna will close a service center in Toledo, Ohio, that employs 67 people.

The company also plans to order employee furloughs, beginning in March, although details haven't been released.

Workers being laid off will receive 60-day notices within the next few weeks, Cessna spokesman Robert Stangarone said in a telephone interview, adding that the cuts will be spread "across all areas and all salary levels."

The bulk of the cuts -- about 4,000 -- will come from the company's Wichita plant, which is the area's largest employer with 12,000 workers, Stangarone said.

Cessna also plans to cut 200 jobs from its Independence, Kan., plant, which now employs 1,300, and 100 jobs from an aircraft components plant in Columbus, Ga. That plant now has 650 workers.

The company's Bend, Ore., plant, already slated to lose 165 workers, will lose 120 more employees under Thursday's announced layoffs. The plant currently employs 450.

Stangarone said Cessna expects to produce 375 jets in 2009, the fewest number in two years. Last year, the company produced 467 jets.

The company also makes single-engine propeller planes, but they have lower profit margins and Cessna hasn't determined how the slowdown will affect their production numbers.

Stangarone said the latest round of cuts became necessary as the company got a better feel from its overseas customers about how the economy was forcing them to change their future buying plans.

Cessna is a unit of Textron Inc., based on Providence, R.I.

Associated Press Writer David Twiddy in Kansas City, Mo., contributed to this report.

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