Sikorsky plans to cut 1,400 jobs

HARTFORD, Conn. – Sikorsky Aircraft is cutting its global workforce by nearly 10 percent as low oil prices reduce demand for the helicopter maker’s commercial aircraft to ferry workers to offshore rigs.

The Stratford-based company also cited softening international demand for its military aircraft, including the Black Hawk helicopter, in announcing the 1,400-person head count reduction and large-scale consolidation of facilities.

The move will cut 180 Connecticut jobs, a spokesman said, and close a company aerostructures facility in late 2016, consolidating its 450 workers to Stratford, about 55 miles northwest of New York.

The layoffs continue the thinning of the company’s workforce in Connecticut, the nearly 200 jobs eliminated adding to the more than 1,000 that Sikorsky has cut in less than five years.

The company has about 15,000 workers worldwide, with 8,000 in Connecticut.

In a statement, Sikorsky spokesman Paul Jackson said: “Sustained decreases in oil prices continue to drive significant declines in capital investments by oil companies in offshore oil exploration projects impacting Sikorsky and resulting in reduced production levels. Additionally, Sikorsky continues to experience softness in demand for certain international military products.”

The effects of low oil prices were clear in the first quarter of 2015. Sikorsky sold just five commercial helicopters, compared with 12 in the same period of 2014. Sikorsky’s sales dropped 7 percent overall.

The reductions will take place at Sikorsky’s main offices and production plants in Poland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut over the next year. Sikorsky is also consolidating work done at smaller satellite locations to those three major sites.