Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer has been cautious about the move. “The city is working to gain a better understanding of how the proposed acquisition may impact our community,” Brewer says. “We’re encouraged by Hawker’s statement … which indicated Superior intends to maintain Hawker Beechcraft’s U.S. headquarters, management team and employees and continue product development throughout its commercial lines.”
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, meanwhile, finds the deal appealing if it helps employment in his state. “My major concern ... is the jobs in Kansas. Wichita is the air capital of the world, and we’ve got more major air companies there than anyplace in the world: Boeing, Airbus and all the [general aviation],” he says. “We want to grow those jobs.”
The good news, Foley notes, is that the companies have stated up front that employment and production will stay in Wichita. When CAIGA purchased Cirrus, it promised to keep production in Duluth, Minn., and so far has kept it there, Foley notes.
But Foley does not rule out the possibility of some Hawker Beechcraft production lines opening in China for local sales down the road.
Chinese executives have expressed a strong desire to build up their aviation manufacturing base. It’s too early to tell what, if any production would launch there, he says.
If the deal should go through as announced, Foley says the proposed agreement would be “the best possible outcome for Hawker Beechcraft. It’s a very good deal for Hawker and its creditors.”
Competitively, he adds, the potential deal will mean “Hawker is not going away, we’re not going from six to five major manufacturers.” But it could be argued that it’s a “little crowded” at the mid- and small-size jet range, he says.