Wichita Public officials and Boeing Co. were laying plans Friday to help about 2,200 people who will lose their jobs at the aircraft manufacturing plant by the end of this year.
The layoffs are to be followed by 3,000 more next year from Boeing Wichita as the company eliminates as many as 30,000 jobs nationwide by the end of 2002 because of falling demand for airplanes.
Unless demand rebounds and Boeing's plans are revised, employment at the Wichita plant will fall to about 12,000 by the end of next year from the current 17,400.
Dick Ziegler, spokesman for Boeing Wichita, said the decision that was publicly announced Friday was "absolutely heartbreaking, gut-wrenching."
"In some cases, both spouses are working for the company," Ziegler said. "It will touch south-central Kansas; let's not pretend it won't."
Notices are to be distributed Friday to workers who will become unemployed Dec. 14. Ziegler said he had an idea of how many people in various departments would be affected but could not discuss the matter until the notices are handed out.
Company officials were studying what kinds of payments might be made to those being put out of work, Ziegler said. Boeing Wichita has six separate bargaining units as well as nonunion workers, and compensation packages will vary, he said.
Mike Taylor, city spokesperson, said officials might try to devise a single source from which laid-off Boeing workers could request help.
At Boeing Wichita, the entire commercial modification operation with 1,200 employees is to be shut down by the end of next March, Ziegler said. Most of the rest of the layoffs will be in the commercial airplane division, he said.
Ziegler and Taylor both noted that just as demand for airplanes has declined, it could rise again.
Boeing fell 90 cents to $33.50 Friday.