By Fred Vergneres
When announcing its financial results, Bombardier unveiled a series of measures to achieve $500 million in savings by 2023. One of these measures marks the end of the LearJet brand myth. Bombardier will discontinue production of the Learjet 75 Liberty in the fourth quarter of 2021, bringing to an end a legendary line of aircraft born in Switzerland in 1959. “With more than 3,000 aircraft delivered since its entry-into-service in 1963, the iconic Learjet aircraft has had a remarkable and lasting impact on business aviation. Passengers all over the world love to fly this exceptional aircraft and count on its unmatched performance and reliability. However, given the increasingly challenging market dynamics, we have made this difficult decision to end Learjet production,” explained Éric Martel, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bombardier Inc.
While emblematic, this announcement comes as no surprise to the business aviation industry. The current global situation, coupled with a slowdown in aircraft sales in recent years, has precipitated its withdrawal from the catalog. This historic turning point should also leave its mark on the company, as the announcement of the Learjet production shutdown is accompanied by a comprehensive restructuring plan. The aircraft manufacturer has indicated who will be divesting 1,600 employees, including more than 250 in Wichita, Kansas, the historic production site for Learjet aircraft.“Workforce reductions are always very difficult, and we regret seeing talented and dedicated employees leave the company for any reason,” said Éric Martel. “But these reductions are absolutely necessary for us to rebuild our company while we continue to navigate through the pandemic.”
These significant measures are aimed at reducing debt while realizing more than $500 million in savings by 2023, according to the aircraft manufacturer. The company, which sold its rail subsidiary to Alstom on January 29, will focus all of its business aviation activity on Challenger and Global aircraft.“With our strategic repositioning now complete, we are very excited to embark on our journey as a pure-play business jet company,” said Martel. “Our unmatched product portfolio, world-class customer services network, and incredibly talented employees give us a strong foundation to build upon. We are encouraged by our momentum in the fourth quarter and are confident in the actions we are taking to navigate through the pandemic and better position the Company for a market recovery.”
The cost reduction should enable Bombardier to consolidate certain units such as the Global series interior outfitting units in Montreal and the Pearson airport, which is expected to be expanded to accommodate the Global 7500 production line.