Glass Half Full, Says Gulfstream Aerospace Chief

 - May 13, 2009, 5:34 AM

Business aviation is currently facing numerous challenges, but Gulfstream officials speaking this week at EBACE remained upbeat. “I’ve been in this industry 30 years and I’ve seen many ups and downs,” said Gulfstream president Joe Lombardo, Gulfstream president and executive vice president of parent company General Dynamics. “February was a bad month for us, with a lot of order defaults occurring. But we’re now seeing some positive signs. We saw fewer defaults last month and more sales activity, so it appears that the industry may be bottoming out.” Taking a “glass half full” viewpoint, Gulfstream’s deliveries, revenues, earnings and backlog have not dropped as precipitously as one might expect in the first quarter, compared with the same period last year. Nevertheless, Gulfstream has found it necessary to implement several cost-cutting measures as it “manages through the downturn in the economy” and deals with the consequences of reduced demand. It has instituted a hiring and promotion freeze, laid off 1,200 employees (600 full-time and 600 contract) and reduced working hours in many service centers. It has also canceled its operators and suppliers conferences for this year. However, Lombardo is heartened by parent company General Dynamics’ continued investment in Gulfstream and sister company Jet Aviation.