WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Boeing said Thursday it will lay off up to 1,500 workers at its rotorcraft facility in Ridley Township in Pennsylvania, but will keep the plant open.
The aerospace giant will take a $700 million fourth-quarter charge to cope with weak demand in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
It will continue to produce its slow-selling 717 jetliner, albeit on a reduced production schedule.
Boeing initially planned to trim the rotorcraft workforce to 5,000 but "because our business has continued to decline, we will have a workforce of 3,500 to 4,000 by mid-2004," said Roger Krone, vice president and general manager of the company's U.S. Army program that includes helicopter manufacture.
Krone said the company also plans to sell off property and buildings at the Ridley Township site, part of the Boeing Military Aircraft and Missile Systems based in St. Louis. He said the union will be asked for concessions as the company "realigns work to support our goal of becoming a world-class assembly, integration and testing facility."
The plant manufactures and sells rotorcraft, including the CH-47 Chinook, the RAH-66 Comanche and the V-22 Osprey.
"This is a difficult time for all Boeing employees, but we are committed to keeping this site open," Krone said. "These changes are necessary to accomplish that goal."
Last month, Boeing announced 2,900 layoffs, mostly at its commercial aircraft division in Seattle as a result of the slowdown in the air travel industry.