Trade union workers at Hawker Beechcraft took to picket lines on 4 August following their rejection of a new employment contract offered by the Wichita, Kansas-based airframer. Nearly 90% of assembly workers supported strike action, claiming the deal falls short in both pay and benefits.

"This is no time for a concessionary contract. This is a time when you should take care of your workers and spread the wealth a little bit," says Machinist Union representative Bob Woods.

The union represents 4,700 workers at Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita and Salina, Kansas, which Woods calls "a ghost town, nothing's happening".

Hawker Beechcraft says it is continuing to build aircraft "despite the striking assembly workers", and says: "The union negotiation committee's decision to reject this offer places our newly formed company and employees at a competitive disadvantage in this extremely competitive global aviation market."

It says a 4% salary increase in each of the next three years is "the best package offered in the past 20 years". Increases in pension and vacation time pair with "wages that exceed other local employers like Bombardier and are just ¢30 short of Cessna".

Meanwhile, the company has reported increased orders, rising sales and higher earnings during the second quarter of 2008 compared with the same period last year. Net bookings for the quarter totalled $1.7 billion, boosting its backlog to a record $7.4 billion. Second-quarter revenues increased by $327.6 million year-over-year to $1.02 billion, primarily due to the increase in aircraft deliveries.

Hawker Beechcraft delivered 129 aircraft in the second quarter - 50 jets, 50 turboprops and 29 piston aircraft. Deliveries included shipment of its first Hawker 4000 super-mid-size business jet. Operating income totalled $86.4 million during the same three months, compared with a loss of $36.6 million during the second quarter of 2007.

Source: Flight International