When the Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer broke ground on a $10 million executive jet service center at Bradley International Airport in July 2007, the future looked bright for the corporate aircraft industry.
That year and the next delivered on their promise, with a record 1,315 business jets shipped worldwide in 2008, notwithstanding the emerging recession.
Embraer opened its new facility last October with a party and said it would employ 60 workers there within five years.
But Embraer has already shut down the operation, citing the economy, and says it has no specific plans to reopen it yet.
"As soon as the market recovers we will re-evaluate our position," an Embraer spokeswoman, Elisa Donel, said in an e-mail message Tuesday.
A single Embraer employee now works out of the massive space, more than 45,000 square feet along Perimeter Road, she said. Embraer, which has a long-term lease on the state-owned property and is still paying rent, has subleased portions of it to Signature Flight Support, a company that provides aviation services for private aircraft operators.
While some business jet manufacturers say orders might pick up in the second half of this year, the first half has proved a rude awakening. In the first six months of 2009, global business jet sales fell 38 percent compared with the same period last year, to 412, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, an industry trade group.
Donel said Embraer shut down the Bradley service center at the end of February, five months after opening it, laying off about six workers at the end. She did not say whether other workers were let go or transferred beforehand. Embraer continues to operate executive jet service centers in Arizona and Florida. The Fort Lauderdale center opened within weeks of the Bradley center, which was supposed to serve customers in the Northeast.
Embraer notified state transportation officials of the shutdown in April and said it would last 18 months, according to a spokesman for the Department of Transportation.
Embraer continues to pay rent to the state, payments that will amount to $71,000 this year, DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said, and $118,000 next year, by contract.
Signature is using the space for storage, according to Embraer.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times