Pratt & Whitney cutting 300 jobs companywide, with a few in Columbus

Jet engine manufacturer and service firm Pratt & Whitney said today it has laid off 300 employees companywide. About 200 of those are at facilities in Connecticut, with the balance scattered at plants across the U.S., including in Columbus.

“Some of them are there, but I don’t have a breakdown by facility,” said Bryan Kidder, a Pratt spokesman in Hartford, Conn., where the company is headquartered. He said the Columbus operation should not see a major reduction.

“We have facilities in Florida, Georgia, Maine, all through the United States,” he said. “Facilities versus offices, there’s probably at least a couple of dozen Pratt & Whitney addresses across the country where we have employees. When you see that 200 of the 300 are focused in one particular state, the others are kind of spread out with not a large impact on the others.”

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 450 on its payroll, while a disk-forging operation employed 150.

The company just last year invested $19.3 million into an expansion and upgrade at its Columbus plant. 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.

The company said it notified employees of their layoffs Thursday morning after an assessment of staffing to ensure it was “in line with current business and economic conditions.”

Kidder said those affected are salaried staffers, not hourly production workers. They include communications, human resources, finance, engineering and management positions, he said.

“It could come from the full array of job descriptions that we have,” Kidder said of the layoffs, which are effective immediately.

“Those employees are being given a package that includes some severance pay, continuation of medical benefits, outplacement assistance to help them going forward, and access to the employee scholar program,” he said. “That’s the program where we will help pay for schooling, in this particular case for a period of a year after their termination date.”

Pratt’s parent, United Technologies, last month reported a 2 percent decline in its overall revenue in the first quarter of this year. It came in at $1.26 billion. Its profit fell as well to $330 million.

The company, which also owns Otis elevator and Carrier heating and air connditioning subsidiaries, has been selling some of its operations to help finance other businesses. It noted in the first quarter that it is experiencing a downward financial draft from slower growth in the U.S.