Bombardier’s Learjet 75 Liberty variant just entered the market late last year, but production for the Learjet full line is coming to an end by the end of 2021 as part of a series of cost-cutting measures. But Bombardier has promised continued support, rolling out a new Racer remanufacturing program for the Learjet 40/45. (Photo: Curt Epstein)
The ramp-up in Global 7500 deliveries led to a 3 percent year-over-year growth in Bombardier’s business aircraft revenues to $5.6 billion, but the company is ending Learjet production by year-end, laying off 1,600 workers, and consolidating completions activity in Montreal as it grapples with the debt that it was left with after becoming a pure-play business aviation company.
Releasing 2020 results Thursday morning, Bombardier president and CEO Éric Martel said the decision to end production after a nearly 60-year history wasn’t taken lightly. Noting that more than 3,000 Learjets have been delivered since the brand first entered the market in 1963, he said, “The iconic Learjet has had a remarkable and lasting impact on business aviation.” However, he added, “Given the number of new entrants in the light jet segment and the challenging market dynamic, we need to focus our future efforts on our more profitable Global and Challenger aircraft families.”
Late last year, Bombardier said it planned to announce aggressive steps to address its debt once it became a pure-play business aviation company following the sale of its rail business—its last non-business aviation unit—to Alstom. After the sale, Bombardier was left with a $4.7 billion debt load, slightly more than the $4.5 billion anticipated last year, and significantly more than the $2.5 billion originally expected. Bombardier cited lost order and delivery activity, restructuring, and other Covid-19 pandemic-related costs to the jump in debt.
Bombardier had already said that it did not plan to invest in new aircraft programs in the next several years. The measures announced on Thursday, Martel estimated, would help contribute to $400 million in annual savings by 2023. Savings this year are anticipated at $100 million. But the company will take a $50 million charge in restructuring costs.
The reduction in 1,600 positions will bring Bombardier’s Global workforce to about 13,000 by year-end. In addition to returning and consolidating Global aircraft completion work to Montreal, the company is reviewing options for the underused hangar and industrial space in Quebec and divesting its electrical wiring interconnection systems in Queretaro, Mexico.