Slumping Bizjet lays off 14
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Thursday, May 21, 2009
5/21/09 at 4:59 AM
BizJet International, the Tulsa corporate and general aviation aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul company, is laying off 14 people or 6.5 percent of its employees, company executives said Wednesday.
The lost jobs are casualties of the recession and the political climate toward corporate aircraft as luxury "toys," said President and CEO Bernd Kowalewski.
"With the present political climate, corporate flight departments are shutting down," he said. "It's considered politically incorrect to have a corporate flight department. I've heard that 20 percent of the corporate fleet is for sale.
"Luckily, we have more work from other countries, which keeps us alive."
BizJet, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik, has more than 200 employees at its 440,000-square-foot facilities at 3515 N. Sheridan Road. At one point in 2008, the company employed more than 250 people, company officials said.
The company provides corporate and private jet refurbishment services, from interior re-upholstery to major modification and floor plan alterations, engine overhauls, exterior painting and airframe maintenance. The company offers repair and overhaul services for Gulfstream, Learjet, Falcon, Challenger, Citation, Hawker, Sabreliner, Westwind and Jetstar aircraft.
Since the Wall Street financial and credit crisis in September, corporate and general aviation aircraft manufacturers have slashed production and cut thousands of jobs as aircraft orders dropped. The aircraft manufacturing reductions have been followed by layoffs at overhaul and repair companies such as Tulsa-based NORDAM Group and BizJet.
Kowalewski said police and military aircraft overhaul and repair work remains strong, and he said corporate aircraft work could rebound if the economy improves.
"It all depends on how the economy comes back and if the political atmosphere changes toward business jets," Kowalewski said. "We're paying the price for exaggeration."
Bizjet was founded in Tulsa in 1986 by local businessmen Roger Hardesty and W.L. "Butch" Walker.
The company was acquired by Lufthansa in 2000.
D.R. Stewart 581-8451