The decision by aircraft manufacturer Boeing (BA) to close its Wichita, KA plant has sparked anger and public comment from officials in Kansas who believe the company did not act in good faith while enlisting the help of Wichita city officials while securing a lucrative government contract to build midair refueling tanker.
Job Losses Hurt Struggling Local Economy
Wichita is known as the "Air Capital of the World," and has a long history with aircraft manufacturing. The city has been the site for the building of a number of legendary airplane models, and companies like Stearman, Cessna, Mooney and Beech were all founded in Wichita. Boeing has had facilities in Wichita since purchasing Stearman in 1929, and the loss of the factor means that over 2,160 jobs will be gone. The mayor of Wichita, Carl Brewer, stated in a telephone interview that he believes the plane maker betrayed those public officials who helped Boeing, which benefited from more than $4 billion in municipal bonds and tax breaks, land the lucrative tanker contract. “They weren’t totally honest with us,” said Brewer of Boeing. “We thought the relationship was a lot stronger.”
Boeing, however, claims that the closing is related to the pending cuts in the defense budget, but many believe that Boeing acted in bad faith, particularly when making promises to keep the Wichita plant open in order to secure the contract. Joining the chorus of angry voices were Kansas Senators Pat Roberts (R) and Jerry Moran (R). "Boeing's announcement is that things have changed," U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran said. "Well, the only thing that really has changed in my mind in the last year is Boeing now has the contract. When they made the commitments, they didn't."
Busy Week for Boeing
The news of the plant closing and the ire that followed it came amid other big news for Boeing. Firstly, the company failed to meet its 2011 delivery targets, with only three 787 Dreamliners and nine 747-8 freighters having gone out, well short of the combined 15-20 planes that Boeing had anticipated by this point. Boeing's goal is to finish 10 787's a month by the end of 2013. However, the delay in the Dreamliner didn't appear to have overreaching effects as Boeing also announced today that commercial aircraft deliveries rose by 10 percent in the last three months of 2011. Boeing delivered 128 aircraft in the fourth quarter of 2011, up from 116 the year prior.
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