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Employees at former Sino plant furloughed

July 09, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- An undisclosed number of employees at the Emivest Aerospace Corp.'s plant south of Martinsburg are on furlough until August, a company spokesman confirmed this week.

"Emivest Aerospace is realigning its production methods in order to gain efficiencies and cost savings; as disclosed earlier this year, this includes the transfer of the fuselage assembly to another site," the company said in a statement released Tuesday by Mark Fairchild, vice president of marketing and sales for the company formerly known as Sino Swearingen.

"The current work-in-process at Martinsburg allows for the furlough while still maintaining the 2010 delivery schedule," he said.

The furlough was put into effect to reduce costs while the transition was under way, and production is scheduled to restart in August, according to the statement.

The furlough announced June 15 came little more than 30 days after the company announced an undisclosed number of layoffs at plants at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport and in San Antonio.

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"Emivest Aerospace is committed to the promises made to our customers to build a solid and sustaining company," said Joe Gullion, the company's chief operating officer. "While the road to a lean, efficient company is not always easy, it is imperative that we take the necessary steps to achieve our goals."

Gullion said in March the company intended to deliver as many as six SJ30 business jets this year and was also interested in developing a larger version of the aircraft partially manufactured in Martinsburg.

"The changes will allow Emivest to contain costs and still reach the business plan of 50-plus deliveries in three years," the company said in the release. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who are being affected."

While Gullion would not comment on number of deliveries in 2010 and 2011, he did suggest Emivest would grow by significant numbers, according to an e-mail from Fairchild.

Plans are being implemented to establish its service network both in the United States and Europe while this transition is taking place, Fairchild said.

Actor Morgan Freeman is among the company's customers, and Fairchild said Freeman's aircraft is on schedule to fly in the next month and be delivered later this summer after interior work and painting are completed.

"Morgan has completed his flight training and his pilot will complete his at the end of July," Fairchild said.

Formerly known as Sino Swearingen Aircraft Corp., the company was renamed Emivest last year after Emirates Investment & Development PSC (Emivest) purchased an 80 percent stake and replaced the Taiwanese government as the majority owner. Emivest is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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