Originally created 10/27/01

Gulfstream plans new cuts



SAVANNAH - Next week, Gulfstream Aerospace will begin cutting hundreds of additional jobs in what is described as a companywide search for the right operation size.

The latest cuts - up to 6 percent of full-time employees and 40 percent of contract workers - comes after a yearlong effort to shed employees, including 200 fired last fall.

The company also plans to cut production in Savannah by 15 percent.

During a recent conference call with Wall Street analysts, aggressive cost-cutting activities at Gulfstream were a certainty, according to Nicholas D. Chabraja, the chief executive of General Dynamics Corp., the business-jet maker's parent company.

Michael J. Mancuso, General Dynamics' chief financial officer, told analysts they could expect reverberations as Gulfstream continues working with suppliers and employees to "right-size our operation."

The reduction in force will begin Thursday and will be companywide. It remains unclear how many Savannah jobs will be lost.

The final count could be in the hundreds, because Gulfstream has previously said nearly half of its 8,000 employees work in Savannah.

The luxury business-jet maker has been reducing its workforce for several years, and company officials didn't say exactly how many employees they have left.

In the mid-1990s, Gulfstream employed about 5,800 people in Savannah. Once the latest round of layoffs is complete, the number could be closer to 4,000 or less.

The plant has had a revolving door of workers in the past year and has even hired a number of people amid the layoffs.

Last fall, the firing of 200 mostly long-time employees spawned an age discrimination lawsuit against the company. The case is pending in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

Since then, scores of other employees have been fired in smaller groups of twos and threes.

Meanwhile, new hires have been arriving - and 30 managerial-type positions were filled in the past six months.

Mr. Mancuso said an expected drop in orders is causing Gulfstream to change its product mix and cut staff. More low-end jets are being made,, with the company averaging about 70 planes per year.

Gulfstream still has a backlog order of nearly $9 billion worth of jets.