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Mon, Jun 02, 2003

Cessna Workers Twiddle Their Thumbs

Six Thousand Furloughed For Summer

It's somehow much quieter in Wichita (KS) these days - especially around the Cessna plant. The sound of machinery used to build aircraft is absent. The sound of workers calling to one another on the way to or from work isn't there any more. The sound of cash registers ringing up sales in Wichita is just a bit quieter than it was last week.

Cessna has furloughed more than 6000 workers for up to seven weeks, hoping to curb production in the wake of order cancellations from one of its biggest customers.

Cessna: Sales To Remain Weak Through End Of Year

It's part and parcel of the post-9/11 slump that has infected general aviation as a whole. Cessna last March announced it would permanently lay-off 1200 workers in addition to sending 6000 on unpaid leave. The 1200 cuts was reduced to 900. Those workers' last day was Friday. In all, Cessna has cut 12,000 jobs since the terror attacks of 2001.

Cessna spokeswoman Jessica Myers told the Wichita Eagle, there is light at the end of the tunnel - that sales are beginning to stabilize. But that was, by no means, a prediction of brighter days ahead, she told the newspaper. "There's no way to tell what the future of the market will be," she said.

What To Do In Wichita When You're Laid Off

Gary Evans, a tool prep operator, told the Eagle he's going to use the seven weeks off to clean up his house, paint the living room and visit relatives. "I'm just glad to have a job" to come back to. I made it through three layoffs."

Max Arndt, a tool and dye maker, only has three weeks' furlough to contend with. He plans to do some major renovations on his home. "I wish they'd give me the seven weeks," Arndt said.

Caravan Production Halted

Cessna and its parent company, Textron, has decided to completely stop production of its huge single-engine Caravan and several Citation lines. The CJ-3 and Mustang projects will be unaffected, according to Cessna.

In all, the company will save approximately $24 million with the summer furloughs and layoffs, a number that experts at Wichita State University say will have a huge impact on the local economy. Cessna was the last of Wichita's airplane manufacturers to institute lay-offs after the 9/11 attacks.

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

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