PINO MODOLA / GENOA & JUSTIN WASTNAGE / LONDON Company axes 10% of workforce despite strong sales of P180 Avanti pusher turboprop

Piaggio Aero is to cut around 10% of its workforce in a drive to reduce costs, despite increasing sales of its P180 Avanti pusher-turboprop corporate aircraft.

With competition intensifying in the US market, the Italian manufacturer is seeking to rein in costs, and will "encourage early retirement" of around 170 of its staff in facilities in Fianale Ligure, Genoa and Naples. The Italian company has just signed a six-aircraft deal with Canadian company Avia Aviation worth c29 million ($29 million), to be financed by GE Capital's Canadian arm. Deliveries are due to begin early in 2003.

The Canadian deal follows the sale in September of eight aircraft to US charter broker Skyline Aviation and Piaggio expects its 2002 sales will be up 10% on 2001, from c124 million to around c138 million. The company expects to report a 50% increase in operating profit to c19 million for the year.

The Genoa-based company delivered 16 P180s in 2002, up from 12 deliveries in 2001. Production is expected to increase to 18 aircraft in 2003 and 22 in 2004. According to Piaggio general manager Giorgio Giorgi the company had previously scaled back its forecasts following the 11 September terrorist attacks, but sales have remained in line with earlier forecasts. Giorgi says that despite the growing sales, the company is not complacent, as "the full effects of the international and domestic slowdown are not yet known".


Despite increased demand, the company is continuing to implement streamlining efforts as part of a drive to achieve sustained profitability. The effort, which has been under way since the company was acquired from the Piaggio automotive company by the Ferrari and di Mase families in 1998, saw it move into the black two years ago. Piaggio employs 1,350 people across its three factories, 70% of whom work on the P180. The job losses will be partially offset by the employment of 50 government-sponsored apprentices.

Source: Flight International