Just a year ago, it seemed Kansas was assured that Boeing (NYSE:BA) would be keeping its sprawling operations in Wichita going full-steam. After all, the state and local governments had helped the Chicago-based aerospace and defense giant with a variety of financial incentives aimed at doing just that. In particular, Wichita was thought to be home for the giant KC-46 airborne refueling tankers that Boeing has a $35 billion Air Force contract for.
Yesterday, however, Kansas officials found out abruptly that this won’t be the case. Citing Pentagon budget-cutting, Boeing now says it’s shuttering the 92-building operation in Wichita and eliminating most of the 2,160 jobs now there. Some of those positions will be transferred to other Boeing locations in Oklahoma City and San Antonio, but at least 1,000 will be lost for good.
Boeing says the jobs will begin to be eliminated in the third quarter of 2012. Other defense contractors have also announced cutbacks in the face of looming budget cuts resulting from the congressional supercommittee’s failure in late 2011 to agree to a budget-deficit reduction compromise that might have spared some of the more draconian defense spending cuts.
Still, Boeing and Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), in particular, have scored major contracts for commercial airplane orders and military aircraft and services from countries ranging from Saudi Arabia to Japan.
That’s no solace for Boeing workers in Wichita who’ll soon be left without jobs.