Bombardier to cut 5,000 jobs, including some in Wichita

Bombardier is selling its turboprop airliner and business jet flight training programs, and cutting 5,000 jobs.

The job cuts will affect Wichita, though Bombardier Inc. spokesman Simon Letendre said Thursday he doesn’t know how many local workers will be cut.

“I don’t have detailed numbers by site and I’m unable to give you a figure for Wichita,” Letendre said.

The Wichita site — which assembles Learjets, performs flight testing of all the company’s aircraft and also repairs and maintains Bombardier’s full line of business jets — employs about 1,600 people.

Letendre said the job cuts come as the company winds down the development of two big aircraft programs: the C Series passenger jet, which was acquired by Airbus in June and is now known as the A220; and the Global 7500 business jet, which the company announced Wednesday has received Federal Aviation Administration certification with first delivery expected before the end of December.

With the conclusion of those aircraft development programs, “we have to adjust and redeploy our engineering workforce, and this will have an impact on Wichita, of course,” Letendre said.

He said across Bombardier, 75 percent of the layoffs will affect its aerospace workforce while the remaining 25 percent will affect workers in its train manufacturing business. The company has 69,500 employees worldwide.

Letendre said the job cuts will occur over the next 12 to 18 months.

Montreal-based Bombardier made the restructuring announcement Thursday morning as part of its earnings for the quarter ended Sept. 30, which showed a 5 percent drop in revenue but a profit of $149 million compared with a loss in the year-ago quarter.

Bombardier also said it was selling for $300 million its Q-400 program and de Haviland trademark to the parent of Viking Air, which bought Bombardier’s aerial firefighting aircraft program a few years ago.

The company also announced the sale of its business aircraft training unit to CAE for $645 million. The deal gives CAE full flight simulators and training devices for all of Bombardier’s business jet product lines, Learjet, Challenger and Global , including its newest Global 5500, 6500 and 7500 large-cabin jets.

On a conference call Thursday with analysts, Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare also acknowledged the company is “exploring strategic options” for its Canadair regional jet program, where he said the company is losing money.

He said Bombardier has 1,500 CRJs in operation around the world.

Bombardier said the job cuts are part of “a new enterprise-wide productivity program to further streamline, lean out and simplify the Company.” It expects to save about $250 million from the cuts.

Letendre said Thursday’s actions were part of the company’s five-year turnaround plan to strengthen its finances.

“We’re continuing to improve our processes,” he said. “The objective here is really to focus our energy on the highest growth activities and business aircraft is part of that.”

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark
Jerry Siebenmark has covered business and aviation in Wichita for 20 years, the latter of which is closest to his heart. Prior to becoming a journalist in 1998 he was a hospital-based emergency medical technician. He’s a graduate of Wichita State University and a U.S. Air Force veteran.