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Boeing to close Kansas plant


WASHINGTON (AFP): Boeing Wednesday said it would close a Wichita, Kansas plant that employs 2,160 people, as it prepared to shift production of a major tanker project elsewhere, risking political ire.

The plant in the central US state is the hub of operations for the B-52 and 767 Tanker programmes and will be shuttered by the end of 2013.

"The decision to close our Wichita facility was difficult," said Boeing's Mark Bass, adding that the decision was based on the firm's assessment of "the current and future market environment" and remaining competitive.

The announcement came less than a year after Boeing won a USD 30-plus billion contract to supply up to 179 refuelling tankers to the US Air Force.

Boeing had claimed that contract would create around 7,500 jobs in Kansas, which had strongly backed the bid.

"Although work on the KC-46 tanker will now be performed in Puget Sound (in Washington state), the 24 Kansas suppliers on the programme will be providing vital elements of the aircraft as originally planned," it said in a statement.

Ahead of the announcement, Congressional representatives from Kansas had voiced anger at rumours suggesting production of the new tanker could be shifted away.

"The Boeing Company has made it clear that it does not intend to finish the KC-46A Tanker in Wichita, Kansas," said Congressman Mike Pompeo in December.

"The company's refusal to 'dance with the girl who brung them' on the tanker contract is incomprehensible and I urge Boeing's senior leaders to reconsider this decision."

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Boeing  USAF  

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