Sikorsky Aircraft Corp plans companywide layoffs

A planned companywide employee cutback at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. will have an impact on the Big Flats plant, but local officials don't know exactly how many local employees will be laid off.

The Stratford, Conn.-based company, which bought out Schweizer Aircraft in Big Flats in 2004, announced Monday it would lay off 3 percent of its work force because of a weak economy and anticipated cuts in the U.S. Defense Department budget.

The company, which manufactures helicopters at the local plant, alerted Chemung County officials to the move last week. But the company did not say how many employees at the Big Flats facility would be idled, according to County Executive Tom Santulli.

"They were unsure at that time what the impact would be," Santulli said. "It's all salaried employees. It isn't the hourly employees.

"It's really a response to the fact that the commercial market of Sikorsky is somewhat soft now. That's been the case for a while."

While the U.S. military is a major customer, the local plant deals primarily with an international marketplace, Santulli said.

Unfortunately, the recession that has gripped this country for the last three years is affecting the global economy as well, said George Miner, president of Southern Tier Economic Growth.

"The economy is the worst I've ever seen it," Miner said. "Their helicopters are $35 million to $40 million, which is an expensive machine. That's why countries are buying two or three, not 20 or 30. Manufacturing is getting hit very hard by the international recession."

Sikorsky said it laid off 386 hourly workers at the Big Flats plant in June, but it still employs more than 800 people there.

Source: Star Gazette