The sagging demand for turboprop airplanes cost 450 Bombardier workers their jobs last month, as the Canadian company handed out layoff notices to 310 production employees and 140 support personnel at its de Havilland plant in Toronto. The cuts affected some 9 percent of de Havilland’s 5,000-strong workforce. A Bombardier spokesman said the company reached a “sustained level of production” after certification of its new 78-seat de Havilland Dash 8Q-400, and that it no longer needs extra workers to staff the new aircraft’s mod line. Perhaps more significantly, demand for the company’s entire line of turboprops, including the 37-seat Dash 8Q-200 and 50-seat Dash 8Q-300 has eroded recently, prompting the company to plan a progressive drop in production through this fiscal year.
Current schedules call for production of 34 Dash 8Q-400s and 18 Dash 8Q-200s and -300s through the end of Bombardier’s fiscal year ending January 31. Now carrying a backlog of 57 airplanes, Bombardier still expects to build an average of 30 Q-400s a year. Bombardier cut 188 jobs at its Toronto plant in May due to overzealous hiring to meet last year’s production goals. Most of the employees involved in this latest layoff belong to the Canadian Auto Workers union, which last year succeeded in convincing management to transfer some paint and completion work from Montreal to Toronto to reduce the impact of the planned cutbacks.