90.3 has learned that Cleveland-based Flight Options has laid off roughly 200 employees, including many pilots. The fractional-ownership jet company blames the cuts on the poor economy. ideastream’s Dan Bobkoff has more.
It was a rough beginning to the holiday weekend for many Flight Options employees. The Teamsters Local 1108, which represents the company's pilots, says some employees got their notifications by voice mail. Roughly 70 of the 200 losing their jobs are pilots. The action comes after two years of sluggish negotiations between the union and Flight Options. Union President Greg Rountree believes there could be a connection.
ROUNTREE: It does appear that the majority of people who were targeted on this were union supporters.
Flight Options is the world's second largest operator of private jets. Before the layoffs, the company had about 1200 employees nationwide. Of those, about 500 were in the Cleveland area. The company is also shuttering its maintenance facility at Cuyahoga County airport, leaving only a skeletal staff.
In an email to pilots, obtained by 90.3, the company said it made its cuts based, not on seniority as is customary in the airline business, but on worker productivity and reliability-including the number of sick days taken.
Flight Options declined our request for an interview, but it did release a statement blaming the cuts on recent poor economic conditions and a reduction in demand. The company said it "made the difficult decision to scale the business to match current and future needs and to maintain the overall health of the Company."
Meanwhile, the union says in the coming days, it will be requesting more information about Flight Options' termination policy.