Bombardier Cuts 1,600 Jobs And Scraps The Learjet

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Quebec-based aerospace company Bombardier (TSX: BBD.B) has announced that it is cutting 1,600 jobs and will stop making Learjets, a business airplane that has been around for nearly 60 years.

Bombardier announced the moves while posting quarterly financial results that showed the company lost $337 million U.S. in the last three months of 2020. The latest job cuts will bring Bombardier’s total workforce down to about 13,000 people worldwide.

About 700 of the job cuts are planned in Quebec and 100 in Ontario. A further 250 jobs will be eliminated in Wichita, Kansas, where the company’s Learjet is built. The rest of the job losses will be scattered across the U.S. and Canada.

Unifor, which represents 2,500 workers at a Bombardier facility in Montreal, is calling on the federal government to do more to help the aerospace industry survive the pandemic. However, most of Bombardier's problems predate COVID-19.

Bombardier today is a shadow of its former self, having gone from an integrated transportation conglomerate that made airplanes and trains of all shapes and sizes, into essentially a niche maker of business jets.

The company’s C-Series business jet, which was touted as the future of the company when it first took to the skies in 2013, was sold to Airbus in chunks in 2017. The company hired a new chief executive officer in March 2020 and faced criticism at the time for the $17-million severance package of the previous CEO.

Bombardier also sold its train-making business to European conglomerate Alstom for $3.6 billion, much less than initially planned. Now, the company's entire business largely consists of making two types of business jets, the Challenger series and the Global series. The company sold 44 of those jets in the fourth quarter of 2020, down from 52 in the same period of 2019.

For the year as a whole, the company sold 114 jets: 59 Globals, 44 Challengers, and 11 Learjets. Learjets were first sold and flown in 1963, based on a design by inventor William Lear who was inspired by military jets The company was eventually acquired by Bombardier in 1990, and more than 3,000 Learjets have been sold over the plane's history.