Sikorsky Aircraft has announced it will reduce employees and contractors in reaction to lower demand for commercial helicopters in the oil industry due to continuing low oil prices.
The helicopter manufacturer also is being negatively impacted by lower military budgets. Some of the 1,400 production-related layoffs will occur locally while others will take place at facilities elsewhere in the United States and overseas.
It is expected about 180 employees will be impacted in Connecticut. Sikorsky now has about 8,000 workers in the state.
The Stratford-based company, with smaller facilities in Shelton as well, made the announcement on Tuesday. A division of United Technologies Corp. (UTC), Sikorsky is considered the region’s largest private employer.
Fewer oil exploration projects
“Sustained decreases in oil prices continue to drive significant declines in capital investments by oil companies in offshore oil exploration projects impacting Sikorsky and resulting in reduced production levels,” Paul F. Jackson, Sikorsky spokesman, said in a written statement.
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“Additionally, Sikorsky continues to experience softness in demand for certain international military products,” Jackson said.
“As a result,” he continued, “we informed employees today of a global workforce reduction of approximately 1,400 production-related positions, which includes a mix of employees and contractors. These actions affect Sikorsky’s facilities in Poland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut and will take place over the next twelve months starting immediately.”
‘Will vacate smaller satellite facilities’
“As part of this activity, the company will vacate smaller satellite facilities and consolidate remaining production volume into larger campuses in Poland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut to include exiting its current facility in Bridgeport, Conn., and relocating employees to the Stratford, Conn. facility,” Jackson said.
“It is important to note that none of these announced layoffs are a result of the facility consolidation,” he said.
The statement did not say if any of the Shelton facilities would be impacted by the consolidation efforts involving locations.
“We will work closely with the impacted employees to ease the transition, and with all our employees, customers and suppliers to ensure continued delivery on all our business commitments,” Jackson said.
Sale of Sikorsky being considered
UTC officials have been looking at the possibility of a spinoff or even sale of Sikorsky Aircraft.
Sikorsky is based at a sprawling factory campus in Stratford on Route 110, which borders Shelton. It also operates several facilities in Shelton, and is considered the region’s largest private employer with about 6,200 employees at the Stratford plant alone.
According to figures released by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office last year, UTC has more employees from Shelton than from any other town in this area — including Stratford. About 800 Shelton residents work for UTC.
The Bridgeport facility to be closed is near Seaside Park, in that city’s South End. All 450 employees from the Bridgeport factory are expected to transferred to the Stratford plant late next year, according to Jackson.