Recent days have provided welcome relief from the uncertainty over Hawker Beechcraft’s bankruptcy. Now the newly named and refocused Beechcraft Corp. can concentrate on its future not only in the global market for turboprop, piston and military aircraft but also in its hometown.
Last week the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York gave its final approval to Hawker’s reorganization plan, the last step as the company emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Soon Bill Boisture will reassume the title of CEO from Robert “Steve” Miller, the turnaround specialist who has spent the past year in the top job. The company has secured $600 million in exit financing and cut costs by having the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. take over two of its retirement plans. To its credit, and to the Machinists union’s satisfaction, the plan also means the 3,000 current and laid-off workers represented by the union still will have retirement benefits. Those are encouraging outcomes.
Meanwhile, the conditions of the 2010 public-incentives deal appear to be working as intended. Because the company had 3,372 employees in Kansas as of Dec. 31, meaning it dipped below the 4,000 threshold spelled out in the $45 million incentives deal with the state and local governments, it will receive smaller payments this year than last. That’s appropriate and, we can hope, temporary, as the Beechcraft Corp. looks to fill 65 open jobs and take advantage of the improving economy.
Much still depends on the pace and strength of general aviation’s recovery, but it’s good to see the proud company and Wichita forging ahead just as they have for more than 80 years – together.