Pratt & Whitney Canada to Lay Off 1,000 workers

HARTFORD, CT — Jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney Canada said Wednesday it will lay off up to 1,000 workers in response to falling business jet orders.

Spokesman Pierre Boisseau said the layoffs, which will start in a few months, represent about 10 percent of the company's global work force. Pratt & Whitney Canada, based in Longueuil, Quebec, outside Montreal, is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.

Boisseau said other segments such as regional aircraft, helicopters and general aviation are not affected as significantly as is the business jet segment.

The job cuts will not affect East Hartford-based Pratt & Whitney, Boisseau said. Connecticut workers manufacture engines for larger jets such as commercial airlines and military planes.

The announcement came a day after Louis Chenevert, CEO of United Technologies, warned analysts that sales of engines for business jets have weakened this year. United Technologies reduced its forecast for engines produced by Pratt & Whitney Canada this year to less than 4,000 compared with a forecast in December of 5,000, he said.

Operating profit rose 5.5 percent last year at Pratt & Whitney, which includes Pratt & Whitney Canada, from $2.01 billion to $2.12 billion. However, United Technologies officials warned last month that a decline in global air traffic could pressure its jet engine business.

Right now, corporate jet business is "the area that's the most impacted," Boisseau said. "Many of our clients that manufacture business aircraft have reduced production levels and laid off people. It has a direct impact on our operations at Pratt & Whitney Canada."

As the global economic worsens, business jets have been targeted for cost-cutting as a symbol of corporate excess, but that has hurt manufacturers of jets, engines and other components. Canada's Bombardier Aerospace said last week it is cutting 1,360 jobs, or about 4.5 percent of its work force, to deal with a drop in orders for business jets.

Rockwell Collins Inc., a defense contractor and manufacturer of parts for private jets and commercial airlines, has said it's cutting 600 jobs and freezing salaries for all executives and managers at 2008 levels.

And Honeywell said Jan. 30 that sales were hurt by a 1 percent decline in its division that makes radar and engines for private jets and other planes.

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