Czech aircraft manufacturer Aero Vodochody is laying off a quarter of its workforce due to a lack of contracts, especially for military aircraft. The move, which take effect in May, will see its employee level cut from 2,000 to 1,600.

Human resources manager Olga Svedínková  says the redundancies have nothing to do with the fact that the company is losing Boeing as a shareholder, and says further lay-offs are not planned. Boeing had held a 36% stake in the company, but the two sides went their separate ways last year. In 2003, Aero was unsuccessful in its bid to supply L-159 jet trainers to India.

"Of the 400 people who are being given notice, 195 are from administration, another 180 manual workers and 25 work in research and development," says Svedínková. "Of the total, 40 are in fact entitled to retire," she explains, noting that Aero will spend CKr14 million ($540,000) on severance pay.

Czech and US certification of Aero's eight- to 12-seat Ae-270 turboprop, developed with Taiwan's Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation, is set for this year. Aero says once the aircraft is approved, the company will be restructured and may seek a new strategic partner.

Svedínková denies the large-scale redundancies would prevent the company dealing with new orders: "We have retained professions that belong to what is called a technological minimum - in other words directly related to the aviation industry - because they are the hardest to find locally."

Source: Flight International