Personal/Corporate, Products

Rotorcraft Report: Aero Vodochody to Cut Staff 27 Percent Plus

By Staff Writer | March 1, 2007

The Czech aerospace manufacturer Aero Vodochody plans to sack 450 of its 1,644 employees, a cut of more than 27 percent, by September as part of a major restructuring by its new owners.

"Our aim is to make Aero healthy, profitable, and in all respects a competitive company as soon as possible," said Aero President Petr Ondro. The company has said it will be profitable within a year. "Aero must not only become able to cover its current costs, but also ensure expected return of capital to its owner."

Aero expects losses of 1 billion Czech korunas ($46 million) for 2006 after a 1.38-billion koruna ($63-million) shortfall a year earlier. The company had negative net worth of 7.3 billion koruna ($335 million) at the end of 2006. The manufacturer, which builds S-76 airframes for Sikorsky Aircraft, was acquired by the Czech-Slovak private equity Penta Investments in January.

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Ondro was named president following that 100-percent buyout. He succeeded Petr KlimeŇ°. The new owners also replaced the company's board of directors and six of nine members of its supervisory board.

Ondro said the company will invest 150 million korunas ($6.9 million) in buying new and upgrading existing equipment in its plants. In 2006, the company invested 58 million korunas ($2.6 million).

"This year, we are expecting an increase in the volume of S-76C helicopter production by a fifth compared to 2006," Ondro said. Aero Vodochody also builds the two-seat L-159 jet, the L-39, and center wing boxes for the C-27J Spartan military transport

Penta's plan for restructuring has three priorities: 1) development and production of aircraft and aircraft components in aerostructures, 2) development of the Vodochody Airport, and 3) cooperation with the Czech air force and potential new customers of the L-159 and L-39 aircraft.

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