The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Business

May 4, 2012

Debt, not market, drove plane maker to bankruptcy

WICHITA, Kan. — Economic turbulence has shrunk the market for business jets and is causing an especially bumpy ride for Hawker Beechcraft.

The Wichita, Kan.-based aircraft maker filed for bankruptcy protection this week, seeking approval for a plan that would write an estimated $2.5 billion in debt off its books.

It’s the latest piece of bad news for Wichita’s aviation economy. But it carries a special significance for Hawker Beechcraft, which has not only suffered as the aviation market soured but has done so with a large amount of debt.

Sales of small and midsize business jets have fallen by more than 50 percent in recent years.

Wichita is home to three makers of such planes, and Kansas has lost more than 13,000 aviation jobs since 2008.

 

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