Wichita losing jobs, Air Capital of the World status

Editor-in-Chief

Wichita has, in recent years, been losing its status as the Air Capital of the World.

Several aviation companies in the area have undergone significant layoffs, leaving thousands out of jobs. What was once a thriving area of aviation has been reduced to a speck on the map, unfortunately.

The most recent layoffs came from Bombardier, which announced 1,000 layoffs to its Learjet business last Thursday. The layoffs affect 620 Wichita employees and 380 employees in Mexico. Around 1,850 employees are estimated to be retained in Wichita.

Bombardier said the cuts came as a result of weak demand for the Learjet 85 business jet.

The announcement from Bombardier is only one of several changes to the aviation industry in Wichita.

In January 2012, Boeing announced it planned to close its Wichita plant by the end of 2014. Boeing had been a fixture in the city since 1927.

Last May 29, the final plane to undergo maintenance in Boeing’s Wichita facility took off, signifying the end of an era for Wichita aviation.

At one point, Boeing employed about 40,000 people. In 2004, the company employed about 12,400 people. When the company announced its plan to leave Wichita, it employed only 2,160 people.

Similarly, the company Beechcraft has conducted several layoffs over the years. In addition, Cessna and Textron have also announced layoffs in recent years.

With all of the lost aviation jobs and the removal of a major aircraft company, it is difficult to continue to label Wichita as the Air Capital of the World.

The city does house a handful of smaller aviation companies. However, what gave Wichita its nickname was the presence of several major aviation companies with facilities in city limits.

Sadly, such is no longer the case. Job cuts have been announced every few months at each major aircraft company. Sadly, those companies may pull out of Wichita if they find better opportunities elsewhere—the way Boeing did.

With all the modern amenities it is projected to have, the opening of the new terminal at Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport (formerly Wichita Mid-Continent Airport) could bring new light into aviation in Wichita. Only time will tell.  

—For the Editorial Board, TJ Rigg