Almost before the naysayers could finish expressing shock at the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Hawker Beechcraft, an end to the bankruptcy is in sight.
Hawker Beechcraft Vice President Shawn Vick met with Aviation Week and other reporters at the three-day European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland, today to say the company, which filed for bankruptcy May 3, will emerge from bankruptcy before the year is out. When it does, former owners Goldman Sachs and Onyx will be bit players, while creditors owed the majority of the company’s $2.33 billion in debt will become the new owners. EBACE ends May 16. An interesting tidbit emerging from the press conference is the reluctance suppliers have had to fill orders from the Wichita-based manufacturer. The bankruptcy will allow the company to re-establish its supplier network using the $400 million it has to continue operations during bankruptcy. The refusal of some of the suppliers to fill orders may explain why the company has had two layoffs it attributed to a shortage of composite parts. Local Wichita reporters reported last year that other manufacturers were not experiencing the same shortage.
Vick also reported orders are picking up for the Hawker 900XP and 400XPR models, with 900XP orders running double those received last year.
The only drama remaining from Hawker’s trip to the brink and back is what the restructuring will look like. Court documents suggested various alternatives, including shutting down its jet line and concentrating on the King Air and piston markets. Given that Vick just announced increasing orders for the 900XP and 400XPR models, a total abandonment of the jet market doesn’t seem likely, but we will know more when the reorganization plan comes out at the end of June. Cessna officials have indicated interest in whatever may drop from Hawker’s table, as have others. The King Air line of turboprops is enticing to competitors–along with the service those aircraft require–but will Hawker Beechcraft want to sell it? Not likely. Also, the company has expressed a belief before the present management change that its Bonanza and Baron lines serve as a step-up to its jets, meaning it might not want to sell them. Even if it did, those models are less attractive to competitors.
Could the Chinese be Hawker’s savior? Not according to stock analyst Heidi Wood, who said China has settled on Cessna as a partner, and is no longer shopping.