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With Smaller Local Workforce This Year, GE Aviation Warns Of More Cuts Nationally

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Nov 24, 2020
The aviation business unit of Boston-headquartered General Electric Co. has announced another wave of job cuts for the firm because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aviation industry worldwide.

Although officials did not yet have specific details on the actual reduction plan, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that GE Aviation President and CEO John Slattery told employees that the business would need to make cuts over the next 18 months.

The jobs cuts will be more focused than the previous two rounds of jobs cuts earlier this year, according to national news reports.

GE Aviation's Wilmington site has been impacted by corporate reductions in 2020, consistent with company-wide cuts announced earlier this year, GE Aviation spokesman Perry Bradley said in an email Tuesday.

In May, the local site reported having 650 employees. That number is now at 500 people, Bradley said.

The Wilmington site of GE Aviation is located in northern New Hanover County alongside the company headquarters of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

GE's chairman and CEO Lawrence Culp said in March that GE Aviation would face a 10% reduction in its total workforce in the U.S., one of several moves the company was making early this year in the business unit to mitigate the pandemic's impact on the firm.

And in May, David Joyce, the former president and CEO of GE Aviation, announced in a letter to employees that it would further reduce its workforce by permanently cutting the firm's then 52,000-person global workforce by as much as 25%. The move included the earlier cuts, Bradley said.

Slattery was appointed leader of GE Aviation in September.

GE Aviation revenues were down 32% over nine months ending Sept. 30, according to GE’s third-quarter earnings report. In recent years, GE corporate overall has been undergoing a restructure with cuts made to its business due to financial difficulties prior to the pandemic.

​“As we continue to closely monitor market conditions, we are examining a range of options to appropriately scale our business to match the realities of the global airline industry recovery from the severe impacts of COVID-19," Bradley said in a company statement.

"As always, we will communicate any business impacts to our employees first. We appreciate the commitment of all our employees during this very difficult time, and we remain focused on protecting the safety of our employees, continuing to serve our customers, and preserving our capability to respond as the industry recovers."

​Not only has the unit suffered losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic hit on the overall aviation industry, but impacts also came with the 20-month grounding of Boeing's 737 Max after two fatal plane crashes.

CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric Co. and Safran Aircraft Engines, produces the LEAP engine, which powers Boeing's 737 MAX series and the Airbus A320 jetliner.

The Wilmington site of GE Aviation makes rotating parts for the firm’s legacy engines and new commercial engines, including CFM LEAP and the new GE9X.

GE Aviation, however, received FAA certification of its GE9X engine in late September, a move that could bring in business to Wilmington.

"This is a great milestone for the Wilmington team," Bradley said. "It’s too early to gauge any further economic impact for our sites at this point but engine certification allows us to begin delivering FAA-certified engines to Boeing. We already have begun manufacturing for production engines."
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