Washington: US aircraft company Boeing has announced its plans to close a massive plant in Wichita in Kansas state before the end of 2013, a decision that will affect a total of 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,” Mark Bass, vice president and general manager for Boeing Defense, Space and Security (BDS) Maintenance, Modifications and Upgrades division, was quoted as saying by

The announcement means that its 2,160 employees will lose their jobs at the Kansas facility, which is the base for Boeing's Global Transport and Executive Systems business and its B-52 and 767 International Tanker programmes. The facility also provides support for flight mission planning and integrated logistics.

According to Boeing's new plan, future aircraft maintenance, modification and support work will be placed at the company facility in San Antonio, Texas, while engineering work will be placed at the facility in Oklahoma City.  The main reason behind the closure of the Wichita facility, according to Boeing, was the USD 500 billion defence budget cuts over the next 10 years.

“In this time of defence 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.  During the past five years, according to Boeing, contracts in Wichita facility have matured, programmes have come to a close or were winding down, and the facility does not have enough sustainable business on the horizon to create an affordable cost structure to maintain and win new business. 

Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins criticised the closure of the facility.

“The aviation industry is immensely important to the Kansas economy and vital to thousands of Kansans who make their living as technicians, suppliers, or employees of the aviation companies in our state,” she said.

“It is a shame to see Boeing's 80-year relationship with Kansas sour this way,” she said.

(Agencies)