Pratt & Whitney engine center in Columbus to pick up share of 125 jobs from San Antonio plant closure

Jobs will be spread among four cities, although Columbus will be ‘primary facility’

tadams@ledger-enquirer.comApril 16, 2013 

The closing of a Pratt & Whitney engine repair and maintenance center in San Antonio, Texas, will bring jobs to Columbus and three other cities within a year, the company confirmed Tuesday.

Pratt & Whitney said its Columbus Engine Center will pick up some of the work now being performed on F100 engines used in jets flown by the U.S. Air Force.

Matthew Bates, a spokesman for the company, did not break down how many jobs will be shifted to Columbus. He said the “Military Aftermarket Services Operation” in San Antonio has about 125 people on its payroll.

The “primary facility” for the jet engine repairs and overhauls will be in Columbus, Pratt said in a release. Company facilities in Oklahoma City, Okla., North Berwick, Maine, and Springdale, Ark., also are expected to land a piece of the business.

“The goal is to complete this transition within the next 12 months,” Bates said via email.

He said the current employees in San Antonio will be able to apply for the jobs in Columbus and elsewhere. Positions include mechanics, inspectors, supervisors and support personnel.

“This decision was not easy, and it is not a reflection on the work performed at this site,” the company said of eliminating the San Antonio center.

Bates also said the Columbus facility will be expanding, although he did not give the capital investment amount Pratt & Whitney will be making locally.

The company said the relocation of the military-contracted work is aimed at becoming more efficient and reducing costs for itself and customers.

“The global business environment has never been tougher for our customers, our industry or our company,” it said in the release. It was nearly a year ago that jet engine manufacturer and service firm Pratt & Whitney announced it was laying off 300 workers companywide, about 200 of those in Connecticut.

Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of conglomerate United Technologies, opened its Columbus plant in 1983 with an initial investment topping $200 million. Its work force has fluctuated frequently through the years because of ups and downs in the airline and defense sectors.

At last count, the Columbus Engine Center had more than 400 on its payroll, while a disk-forging operation employed 150. The company in 2011 invested $19.3 million into an expansion and upgrade at its Columbus plant. At the time, the job creation was pegged at 177 new positions, with the move aimed at handling additional engine overhaul and forging work for military and civilian jets.

Aside from Pratt & Whitney, Hartford, Conn.-based United Technologies also owns Otis elevator and Carrier heating and air conditioning subsidiaries.

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