Bombardier will stop making Learjet aircraft and cut 1,600 jobs as part of a wide-ranging plan to boost profitability and reduce costs.
Production of the iconic private aircraft, which came onto the market almost six decades ago, will cease in the fourth quarter, the Montreal-based manufacturer said in a statement Thursday. That will allow the company to focus on its larger, faster and more lucrative Challenger and Global business jets.
“Given the increasingly challenging market dynamics, we have made this difficult decision,” said Chief Executive Officer Éric Martel.
The moves will go toward a cost-saving target of $400 million annually by 2023, Bombardier said, including $100 million this year. Planemakers globally are having to scale back to cope with a drop-off in demand during the coronavirus pandemic, which has upended global travel.
Bombardier has been selling off major units to lower its heavy debt burden and improve cash flows. The company sold its C-Series narrow-body aircraft program to Airbus SE, and last month completed the sale its rail division to Alstom SA. A factory in Northern Ireland used to make aircraft wings is now owned by Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc.
Modeled by inventor Bill Lear on a Swiss fighter aircraft and made in Wichita, Kansas, the Learjet has racked up more than 3,000 deliveries since 1963 debut and was once the epitome of luxury travel for celebrities like Frank Sinatra.
It’s since fallen out of favor, though, as private-plane buyers switched to larger, more comfortable, longer-range models.
Bombardier sees 2021 as a transition year, focusing more on business aircraft , which it said should generate higher revenue than last year as the global economy gradually recovers from the pandemic. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization are expected to top $500 million, below the average estimate of $718.5 million among analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.