Wichita Boeing Co. will cut 225 jobs at its Wichita defense plant through the end of this year, blaming the end of some programs and adjustments in aircraft maintenance cycles for the reductions, the company announced Tuesday.
The reductions at Boeing Defense, Space & Security's Maintenance, Modifications and Upgrades facility will be accomplished through layoffs, normal attrition and placements elsewhere within the company, according to a Boeing statement. The first 60-day layoff notices will be sent out to about 60 employees Friday.
"This reduction of positions is necessary to help our business reduce cost and improve productivity," MM&U general manager Mark Bass said in a news release. "Our goal is to remain affordable and competitive, and ensure future growth in the airplane modification business in Wichita."
The announcement is a blow to a community that had hoped the number of jobs at the facility would grow after Boeing won a contract to build 179 refueling tankers under a contract worth at least $35 billion. The modification work on the planes is expected to be done at Boeing's Wichita plant.
"This does not at all impact our ability to support the tanker program," spokesman Jarrod Bartlett told The Associated Press. "In fact, we currently have engineers working on the program supporting it and are still scheduled to be the finishing center for the Air Force tanker in the 2014 time frame."
Boeing's Wichita facility has between 200 and 250 engineers working on the Air Force tanker program today, he said. The company will not project exactly how many jobs the Air Force tanker contract will mean for Wichita in 2014, he said.
The new cutbacks are being driven by the end of some programs, such as the international tanker program that supplied refueling tankers to other countries.
"We have been delivering airplanes for the last couple of years on that program and we don't have new work behind it to fill the hole some of those programs are leaving," Bartlett said.
Bartlett declined to predict how many of the 225 jobs will be achieved through layoffs rather than normal attrition or transfers.
"I do think it is important that to let people know we really are working hard to make sure as few layoffs happen as possible," he said. "This is driven by business we have at the facility today and we are staffing for work that we have."
Just last month, the company was touting its selection by Greenpoint Technologies Inc. to install some modifications on four new 747-8 Intercontinental VIP airplanes purchased by customers of Boeing Business Jets. Those airplanes will be modified starting later this year at the Wichita facility.
The Boeing Defense, Space & Security facility in Wichita specializes in modifying commercial aircraft for military or government operations.