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Mon, Feb 02, 2004

Cessna Bizjet Business Takes A Fall

Orders Down 35 Percent In '03

Cessna is feeling the pinch. No doubt about it. The Wichita Eagle -- always a dependable eye watching the machinations of aircraft manufacturers in the Heartland -- reports Cessna deliveries were down 35 percent in 2003 as compared to the year before. Ouch.

And the slide isn't over yet, although Cessna professes to see light at the end of the tunnel.

While Cessna and its parent company, Textron, expect 2004 deliveries to continue the downward trend, the company predicts a rise in deliveries for 2005.

"We were expecting 2003 to be a challenging year, and it was," Cessna president and chief executive Jack Pelton said.

Cessna estimates it will deliver between 165 and 170 aircraft this year. Deliveries of single-engine GA aircraft should remain flat.

About 70 percent of Cessna's revenue will be generated by sales of business-class jets, according to a company conference call with analysts. Based on those predictions, Cessna recalled "a handful" of workers last month and promises that "the employment outlook remains stable."

One bright spot on Cessna's books seems to be the increased consumer interest in the fractional jet market. "We have a very good relationship with them," said Textron chairman, chief executive and president Lewis Campbell. Cessna estimates about 20 percent of the aircraft it ships this year will go to fractional operations.

FMI: www.cessna.textron.com/home.html

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