Cessna lays off salaried workers; numbers unclear

Cessna Aircraft laid off an undisclosed number of salaried workers Thursday, a month after it offered a voluntary retirement program for hourly and salaried workers.

The company is working to align its workforce with a reduced forecast for sales and production.

“On April 29, Cessna announced as part of the Voluntary Retirement Plan offering that the company would also proceed with involuntary separations based on performance and scope of work,” a Cessna spokesman said in a statement. “The communication at that time indicated that notification of these involuntary separations would occur within the next 30 days. Today’s (Thursday’s) actions represent the implementation of the plans announced last month.”

The company declined to say how many people were laid off.

The cuts did not affect hourly employees represented by the Machinists union, said Frank Molina, president and directing business representative of the Machinists District 70 in Wichita.

“We’re not anticipating any at this point,” Molina said.

Cessna employs 8,200 people, including 5,800 in Wichita.

Last month, company officials said that they would cut production this year because of weak demand in Cessna’s light jet products. The market has remained weak even as economic indicators, such as corporate profits, improved.

Cessna has not been building a backlog of orders, Scott Donnelly, CEO of Textron, Cessna’s parent company, told analysts last month on a conference call about Textron’s first quarter results.

Instead, “you take an order for an aircraft and you deliver the aircraft,” Donnelly said at the time.