Sikorsky Aircraft announced on Tuesday that it is “exiting its current facility in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and relocating employees to the Stratford, Connecticut facility. It is important to note that none of these announced layoffs are a result of the facility consolidation.” The company announced global workforce reductions including 180 jobs in Connecticut. Sikorsky operates a satellite office in the South End.
Statement from spokesman Paul Jackson:
“Sustained decreases in oil prices continue to drive significant declines in capital investments by oil companies in offshore oil exploration projects impacting Sikorsky and resulting in reduced production levels. Additionally, Sikorsky continues to experience softness in demand for certain international military products.
“As a result, we informed employees today of a global workforce reduction of approximately 1,400 production-related positions, which includes a mix of employees and contractors. These actions affect Sikorsky’s facilities in Poland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut and will take place over the next twelve months starting immediately. As part of this activity, the company will vacate smaller satellite facilities and consolidate remaining production volume into larger campuses in Poland, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut to include exiting its current facility in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and relocating employees to the Stratford, Connecticut facility. It is important to note that none of these announced layoffs are a result of the facility consolidation.
“We will work closely with the impacted employees to ease the transition, and with all our employees, customers and suppliers to ensure continued delivery on all our business commitments.”
CT Post reporter Hugh Bailey has more.
Statement from Mayor Bill Finch:
Today, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. announced it will move its Bridgeport operations at 1210 South Ave. to its facility in Stratford. There will be no loss of jobs for the workers currently at the Bridgeport plant. The employees will be shifted to the Stratford facility as part of the company’s consolidation.
“Unfortunately, the global market for aircraft has prompted a consolidation of facilities,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “Their decision makes smart business sense for them. We’re glad there was no job loss and that Sikorsky will continue to pay taxes on the property it owns in Bridgeport. This also presents a unique opportunity for further growth in our Eco-Technology Park.”
After a roughly 50 percent plunge in oil prices, exploration and production companies are cutting capital budgets, service companies are weighing layoffs and non-energy firms support the industry are bracing for a protracted slowdown, according to the Wall Street Journal. Last June, oil was selling at $115 a barrel. By January, those prices had plummeted to just $45 a barrel.
The resulting decline in offshore drilling, closure of rigs and delays in deep sea exploration has prompted a sharp decline in orders to Sikorsky for its commercial helicopters, which are used to transport employees to and from offshore rigs. Commercial and industrial sales account for 45 percent of sales for United Technologies, Sikorsky’s parent company.
The Wall Street Journal also reported that “contrary to the negative impact from weak U.S. defense spending and lower helicopter demand from the oil and gas sector, Sikorsky will see gains from a few recent defense contract wins. Last year, the company won a contract to build the next fleet of Marine One helicopters, and the contract to produce the next generation of combat rescue helicopters for the U.S. Air Force. Together, these two contracts hold a sizable production backlog for Sikorsky. In December, Sikorsky also bagged a key Indian Navy helicopter deal.
“However, despite these contract wins, the bottom line is that Sikorsky is a low-margin, slow growing business, which is highly dependent on U.S. defense spending. U.S. government contracts constitute more than half of Sikorsky’s total sales. The company’s shipments have also struggled to grow in recent years. In 2014, Sikorsky shipped 178 military helicopters, marginally up from 177 it shipped the year before, and it shipped 59 commercial helicopters, down from 63 it shipped in 2013,” the newspaper reported.
Paul Timpanelli, the president and CEO of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, said the consolidation presents an opportunity to further expand the city’s Eco-Technology Park, which has become a national model for green energy and businesses.
So far, Eco-Technology Park has resulted in more than 200 jobs and many more to come. And, these new jobs have resulted in more than $10 million in annual personal income, according to the Connecticut Post.
“This gives us a great opportunity. The Eco-Technology Park is growing. One challenge has been we lack enough land to offer to companies that are inquiring about opening businesses in Bridgeport,” said Mayor Finch. “This will help us bring in new businesses that will create new jobs for Bridgeporters.”
“The decision by Sikorsky to close its Bridgeport South End plant, a location that has been a part of their manufacturing plant inventory for many years, and recently employed hundreds of workers, does not come as a surprise,” Timpanelli added. “Sikorsky, a long-time quality employer in our region and specifically in Bridgeport, is in the process of consolidating manufacturing functions around the world to better position the company to compete in an ever-changing global marketplace. Part of that consolidation strategy is to make the company more efficient, lean and productive. These Bridgeport-based jobs will be, for the most part, transferred to the Stratford location, and, therefore not lost to our region. Sikorsky, we are confident, will continue to be a major regional employer and positive regional economic force.
“The good news here is that the South End Sikorsky plant will provide Bridgeport with much needed inventory of clean, usable manufacturing space located within Bridgeport’s increasingly desirable Eco-Technology Park,” said Timpanelli. “Because of what we have been able to achieve in partnership with the city over the last few years, the South End Sikorsky plant will now be perfectly positioned for reuse, it will be near new sources of renewable, clean energy that will critically reduce power costs, and it will be in a renewed neighborhood with many new companies and added tax incentives that come with the formalization of the “Eco-Park.”
Bridgeport’s economy also is growing with major economic development projects downtown and at Steelpointe, creating hundreds of new jobs and adding millions of dollars to the tax rolls. Steelpointe Harbor is a 52-acre peninsula off of the Long Island Sound. Construction is underway there for a new Bass Pro Shop and a Starbucks and Chipotle restaurant. And that’s just the beginning. Once complete, Steelpointe Harbor will serve as a 2 million square foot super regional waterfront, featuring more than 750,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and entertainment, a 12-screen premium theater, two hotels, 1,100 mid-and-high rise residential units, 30,000 square feet of office and a 200-slip full service deep water marina.