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Hawker Beechcraft closer to bankruptcy emergence

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 25, 2013 at 3:50 pm •  Published: January 25, 2013
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It is unclear yet how many employees the reorganized company will keep as it stops making business jets.

"Job numbers depend on completing the reorganization — and military contracts that could significantly affect numbers one way or the other," said Frank Larkin, spokesman for the machinists union, which represents Hawker Beechcraft workers.

The bankruptcy court is also expected to rule Thursday on the fate of company's three pension programs. Hawker Beechcraft has asked the court to allow it to continue the pension plan for hourly workers under an agreement reached with the machinists union that freezes pensions and creates a new retirement savings plan.

"That was a major goal for our negotiations and if that is approved it will be a significant accomplishment," Larkin said.

Hawker Beechcraft, owned by Onex Partners and GS Capital Partners, filed for bankruptcy protection in May. It has struggled with the sluggish business jet market more than other plane makers. It was purchased in 2007 in a highly leveraged deal just before the general aviation market tanked.

The complex bankruptcy proceedings have involved 18 entities, 5,400 employees worldwide and $2.4 billion in debt. In addition to its Wichita headquarters, the company has factories in Little Rock, Ark., the United Kingdom and Mexico, as well as more than 100 service centers worldwide.

Hawker Beechcraft traces its Kansas roots to Beech Aircraft Corp., a company founded by Walter and Olive Ann Beech that began making aircraft in the 1930s.