OSCODA – Kalitta Air representatives have announced the layoffs of 154 employees at its aircraft maintenance facility, located on the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda.

Details were shared at the Jan. 9 meeting of the Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport Authority (OWAA), by Kalitta’s Director of Heavy Maintenance, Don Nolan.

He advised that, as of the prior week, the company employed 1,367 people at this branch. However, more than 100 of these workers had to be let go on Jan. 8.

“Most of them were contractors; temporary employees,” Nolan said.

“So that brought our total head count down here to 1,213,” he continued.

“I’m hoping that’s the last time we have to do that. The only other time we had to do that was about 11 years ago,” according to Nolan.

“It’s mainly due to the global economic conditions out there – they’re greatly impacting air freight,” he explained of the layoffs, pointing out that FedEx is accelerating the retirement of 31 airplanes because they’re feeling it, as well.

“The U.S. economy seems strong, but the rest of the world is flat. So we’ll probably be parking two airplanes,” Nolan shared.

OWAA member and AuSable Township Supervisor Kevin Beliveau asked if the layoffs were considered permanent.

“We’ll see how things pick up,” Nolan answered, explaining that the company will have to see how its next quarter pans out.

“Last quarter wasn’t good, other than the Christmas rush was a game saver,” he added.

“We’re not the only one in this boat,” Nolan remarked.

Of the layoffs, OWAA representative and Oscoda Township Supervisor Aaron Weed questioned how many of these individuals were contractors.

According to Nolan, it was about 117, give or take one or two.

“It’s unfortunate, but we had to do it,” he expressed.