Boeing's decision to shutter its Wichita facility by the end of 2013 is a big blow for the region's aerospace activity, which is already suffering after other cutbacks. It also marks a sharp turnaround from the message the company had for the region when it was looking for political support to win the U.S. Air Force KC-X tanker program.
Here is some of what the company put out before it won the KC-46A program:
TOPEKA, Kan., April 30, 2010 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today announced that Kansas will benefit from approximately 7,500 jobs and an estimated $388 million in annual economic impact if the Boeing NewGen Tanker is selected as the U.S. Air Force's next aerial refueling aircraft.
"The national recession has hit the aviation industry hard, with thousands of Kansans out of work," said Gov. Mark Parkinson. "The jobs from this contract can provide meaningful economic recovery to our state and country. The delays on this project have been frustrating, and unnecessary. I urge our military leaders to act swiftly and award this contract to Boeing. It's time we bring these jobs home to Kansas."
"I am confident that the Air Force will select Boeing to build its new tanker because I know the strength of the Kansas work force. Our workers will provide the skills and expertise that a new generation of airmen will depend on to keep America secure," said U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback. "I am excited for Boeing to win the contract and get these tankers rolling off of the line, and excited that we are working together to create new jobs in Kansas and grow the Kansas economy."
"This announcement today confirms what we all know to be true, that Boeing will make the best next-generation aerial refueling tanker. Boeing's proposal is based on a proven platform founded on the expertise of a well-established pool of skilled workers," said U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts. "The tanker proposal must be based on a level playing field and not construed to accommodate the business needs of an illegally subsidized company at the sacrifice of American servicemembers."
"While unemployment remains high and our economy is still sluggish, nothing is more welcome news than a possible 7,500 jobs coming to Kansas. An American tanker should be built by an American company with American workers -- and that is the Boeing 767 -- made by our highly skilled workers here in Kansas," said U.S. Congressman Todd Tiahrt. "I will continue to press the Pentagon for a fair and level playing field for our American workers. With an equal competition, there is no doubt that U.S. workers can compete and win this tanker contract. I look forward to seeing these high-quality jobs come home to the Sunflower State very soon."
Boeing employees working at the Wichita, Kan., site will play an important role in modifying commercial 767 airplanes into NewGen military tankers if the company is selected for the contract. This is highly skilled work that Boeing workers in Kansas know well, having performed similar modifications in recent years on eight 767 tankers for Japan and Italy.
In addition to the 2,586 Boeing employees in Kansas, the company also works with 464 suppliers/vendors around the state, resulting in an estimated $3 billion in annual economic impact and supporting an estimated 125,000 direct and indirect Kansas jobs.
And here is today's message for the region:
WICHITA, Kan., Jan. 4, 2012 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today announced that the Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS) facility in Wichita will close by the end of 2013. The Wichita facility currently employs more than 2,160 employees.
"The decision to close our Wichita facility was difficult but ultimately was based on a thorough study of the current and future market environment and our ability to remain competitive while meeting our customers' needs with the best and most affordable solutions," said Mark Bass, vice president and general manager for BDS' Maintenance, Modifications & Upgrades division. "We recognize how this will affect the lives of the highly skilled men and women who work here, so we will do everything possible to assist our employees, their families and our community through this difficult transition."
Boeing Wichita is the base for the company's Global Transport & Executive Systems business and its B-52 and 767 International Tanker programs. The facility also provides support for flight mission planning and integrated logistics.
Over the past five years, contracts in Wichita have matured, programs have come to a close or are winding down, and the site does not have enough sustainable business on the horizon to create an affordable cost structure to maintain and win new business.
"In this time of defense budget reductions, as well as shifting customer priorities, Boeing has decided to close its operations in Wichita to reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and drive competitiveness," said Bass. "We will begin program transitions in the coming months, with the complete closure of the site scheduled for the end of 2013. We do not anticipate job reductions as a result of this decision until early in the third quarter of 2012."
Bass said that Boeing will continue to have a significant impact on the Kansas economy and the health of the state's aerospace industry.
"The company spent more than $3.2 billion with approximately 475 Kansas suppliers in 2011, spanning its commercial and defense businesses, making it the fourth largest state in Boeing's supplier network," said Bass. "Based on Boeing Commercial Airplanes growth projections for the next few years, Boeing anticipates even more growth for suppliers in Kansas. Boeing values its long-term partnership with Kansas, and we will continue to work with all of our stakeholders in Kansas in support of a robust aerospace industry in the state."
Future aircraft maintenance, modification and support work will be placed at the Boeing facility in San Antonio. Engineering work will be placed at the Boeing facility in Oklahoma City. Although work on the KC-46 tanker will now be performed in Puget Sound, Wash., the 24 Kansas suppliers on the program will be providing vital elements of the aircraft as originally planned.
Boeing is providing employee assistance including retirement seminars, job search resources, and financial counseling, as well as help finding jobs inside or out of Boeing.