WICHITA, Kan. - Officials at The Boeing Company announced they are closing their Boeing Defense, Space & Security facility in Wichita by the end of 2013 in a bid to cut costs in a tight market for defense spending.
Wednesday's announcement means the loss of 2,100 well-paying jobs at its Kansas facility, which was once considered the centerpiece of Wichita's claim as the air capital of the world.
It also dashes hopes for an additional 7,500 direct and indirect jobs that the company once promised to bring to Wichita with the Air Force air refueling tanker contract.
Mark Bass, vice president and general manager for BDS' Maintenance, Modifications & Upgrades division, said it was a difficult decision and was based on a thorough study of the market.
"We recognize how this will affect the lives of the highly skilled men and women who work here," Bass said in a news release announcing the closure , "so we will do everything possible to assist our employees, their families and our community through this difficult transition."
Maintenance, modification and support work will be headed to San Antonio while Engineering work will be placed at the Boeing facility in Oklahoma City.
Work on the KC-46 tanker will now be performed in Puget Sound, Wash.
Job reductions at the Wichita facility are scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2012.
WICHITA, Kan. - Wichita officials are closely watching for any developments on the possible closing of the Boeing Co. defense plant that may come out of a mandatory meeting of employees.
Boeing spokesman Jarrod Bartlett confirmed Wednesday's meeting for all employees but declined further comment. The company said last month it was studying the Wichita plant's future, including possibly closing it.
“I'm thinking that boeing is going to announce the closure of the wichita site,” Bob Brewer, Wichita director for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, told KSN-TV in Whicita.
Brewer said the company hasn't told union officials about any decision.
Even without an official announcement from Boeing, it's a disappointing possibility, especially to the Kansas Congressional delegation who worked hard to land work on the new KC-46A tanker in Wichita.
Rep. Mike Pompeo said if the tanker was awarded to Boeing, officials said the finishing facility would be in Wichita.
“It was very clear,” Pompeo said. “It was unequivocal and they have have an obligation to live up to that commitment."
Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer says Boeing has not returned calls from local officials. Brewer, Sedgwick County Commissioner Dave Unruh and U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo all scheduled news conferences Wednesday to respond to any announcement from Boeing.
Talk from legislators has not been confident after Boeing announced it was doing a company-wide study of its future,
“I hope that we can convince them to do right by Kansas," Pompeo said.
Boeing employees 2,100 people at its Wichita plant, down nearly 13,000 employees since 2005.
So, if the company does announce it will leave, what will happen next?
"It depends on how fast they move and leave Wichita is how it will affect us,” said Jeremy Hill, with the Center for Economic Development and Business Research.
If the company phases out slowly, it gives those employees more time to adjust, if not there could be a trickle down affect all the way down to Wichita businesses and aircraft suppliers.
Regardless, some say it may already be too late.
KSN and The Associated Press Contributed to this Report
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